Car companies have been manufacturing cars with traditional propulsion, though they are looking for a place in new reality, where tech companies seek to revolutionize the market on many levels at once. As Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota, said during his keynote speech at CES 2018, what kept him up at night (as well as other automobile concerns) was new competition: Google, Apple, and Facebook. Therefore one of the largest car manufacturers in the world has shifted its plans for the future.
How Toyota sees the future of cars
Toyota wants to be a mobility company. In 2016 already the company announced the building of a new dedicated platform (Global Mobility Service Platform) supporting new forms of mobility (for example car sharing) and enabling it to cooperate with other service providers. At CES 2018 Toyota announced that it would develop mobility platform. It also has created e-Palette industry alliance. Toyota unveiled mobility services concept vehicle as well. It is going to build a mean of transport used by businesses. The vehicle is more like a small shuttle. Its interior can be changed to fit requirements and expectation of a particular business. In concept, it can be a mobile shop, lightweight delivery truck, mobile office, a car delivering pizza. Additionally, the intended use of a vehicle can change during the day.
The e-Palette concept is electric and autonomous. Toyota gathered a group of business partners around building a vehicle and developing Mobility Service Platform. Among them are Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber. How should e-Palette work? The platform will enable external companies to build their mobility services using the e-Palette vehicle. However, this is a concept. Toyota assumed that it would build e-Palette by 2020. It plans to provide mobility services for Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, but it admits that vehicle doesn’t have to look like it presented it during CES 2018. The vision is that e-Palette should serve new mobility and companies building solutions for it. In practice, they will help to indicate the right direction. Ultimately, Toyota will build a vehicle having the best possible application.
Toyota is not the only car manufacturer that transforms in the face of new competition. Other players in the market change as well. They have different visions, differently approach changing market, but they are not going to leave the field to competition.