Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda has announced a new mobility service business alliance which will create a broad-based ecosystem of hardware and software support designed to help a range of companies utilize advanced mobility technology to better serve customers. Launch partners include Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber, who will collaborate on vehicle planning, application concepts and vehicle verification activities.

The new e-Palette Alliance, as it is known, will leverage Toyota’s proprietary Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to develop a suite of connected mobility solutions and a flexible, purpose-built vehicle. Announced in 2016, the MSPF is Toyota’s framework for a range of connected vehicle applications, providing a full suite of services ranging from vehicle leasing and insurance to fleet management and big data.

“The automobile industry is clearly amidst its most dramatic period of change as technologies like electrification, connected and automated driving are making significant progress. Toyota remains committed to making ever better cars. Just as important, we are developing mobility solutions to help everyone enjoy their lives, and we are doing our part to create an ever-better society for the next 100 years and beyond. This announcement marks a major step forward in our evolution towards sustainable mobility, demonstrating our continued expansion beyond traditional cars and trucks to the creation of new values including services for customers,” Mr. Toyoda said at CES 2018 in Las Vegas yesterday.

In the near term, the Alliance will focus on the development of the new e-Palette Concept Vehicle, also unveiled at CES. The concept reflects one of Toyota’s visions for Automated Mobility as a Service (Autono-MaaS) applications. It is a fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) businesses.

In addition to supporting the services provided through Toyota’s MSPF, the e-Palette Concept Vehicle’s open vehicle control interface and a set of software tools to allow partner companies to install their own automated driving system and vehicle management technology. When a partner company’s automated driving system is installed, Toyota’s Guardian technology will act as a safety net to help ensure appropriate operation.

With the e-Palette Concept’s open interior design layout, the vehicle can be outfitted with purpose-built interiors in accordance with the user’s needs, whether it be parcel delivery, ride sharing, or on-the-road e-commerce. Its flexible framework is also designed for usage optimization, allowing the vehicle to be shared to support various business needs and transition seamlessly from one application to another. Toyota envisions that the e-Palette Concept will be made available in three sizes (with lengths from 4 metres to 7 metres), allowing not just need-specific applications, but also right-sized and right-place mobile solutions.

Toyota plans to conduct feasibility testing of the e-Palette Concept in various regions, including the United States, in the early 2020s. It also hopes to contribute to the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 by providing mobility solutions like the e-Palette and other innovative mobility offerings.

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[Chips Yap]

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