Toyota introduces e-Palette, its mobile retail space

Toyota e Palette concept previews new autonomous vehicle platform

Before this, the brand plans to supply the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games with versions of the e-Palette.

At this week's Consumer Electronics Show, Toyota unveiled designs of a self-driving concept vehicle called e-Palette.

Toyota Motor Corp announced on Monday a self-driving electric concept vehicle that it will tailor for companies to use for tasks like ride hailing and package delivery, underscoring how automakers are no longer simply building cars but also providing services to go with them.

The e-Palette will be fully autonomous and electric.

Unusually for an autonomous vehicle, Toyota isn't suggesting that its self-driving platform is necessarily the best choice compared to anything else out there.

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The vehicle features an open control interface enabling Toyota's partner companies to install their own automated driving system. These will each have access to the MSPF to develop their own takes on this modular, production-flexible vehicle. The partners include the likes of Uber, Amazon, DiDi, and Pizza Hut. The e-Palette concept is centered around automated vehicles that can be customized to serve a wide variety of purposes. It's an open platform for ride-sharing, retail, delivery, or really anything a business can think of.

The Japanese automaker's multi-company partnership comes at a time when automakers are scrambling to make smart alliances that will speed up the development of autonomous technology and mobility services. What Apollo doesn't have a is a turnkey vehicle it can pitch to partners like Amazon and Pizza Hut, who might be loathe to invest the not-insignificant amount required to build their own auto, or players like Uber who have already invested in prototypes but might see the value of that as more about the resulting software than necessarily owning the hardware design themselves.

Until then, Toyota and the rest of its Alliance will be putting their heads together to brainstorm ways we'll interact with these sharable, shapeshifting, self-driving shipping containers well into the future.

The world's second-biggest carmaker said it plans to begin testing the e‐Palette concept vehicle in various regions, including the United States, in the early 2020s.


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