Those needs could be met by a scalable family of electric vehicles for urban centres.
On Sunday, it became the first Chinese automaker to hold a large-scale unveiling at CES in Las Vegas - a $45,000 electric SUV using facial recognition to unlock doors, Amazon's Alexa to entertain and a 49-inch screen across the dashboard.
A lot of what we've seen from other automakers are perhaps better classified as side bets; case in point, Volkswagen's chief executive expressed skepticism about the extent of the potential of mobility services on stage with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang yesterday, despite the fact that VW has its own mobility sub-brand, Moia. Initial testing is scheduled to begin in the United States in early 2020 with further plans to start service during the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Toyota's wildly futuristic e-Pallette Concept Vehicle was revealed at CES as part of "a new mobility service business alliance... created to meet the demands of future multi-mode transportation and business applications".
But there are other commercial opportunities, Toyota is betting.
And, it can do more than just deliver goods in a last-mile type application, they say the vehicle can also be utilised as a mini-bus, or set-up as a mobile retail or office space.
Even conventional retailers could use a driverless vehicle. How about a pizza oven that comes to you? The Japanese auto giant says it hopes to debut its e-Palette project at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. An e-Palette can bring the whole shoe collection to your customers' homes. And though it has yet to be confirmed, CEO Tim Cook has done much to encourage that speculation in recent months.
Toyota will design the e-Palette with input from companies like Amazon, Didi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber. "We didn't start making cars either", said Toyoda, noting that the largest of Japan's automakers started out in the textile industry.
The two companies are now starting on plans to boost the current driver/delivery ecosystem by jointly testing dual communication tech early this year in Pizza Hut delivery vehicles to capture data on driver patterns and behaviors.
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