Toyota previewed one of its visions of future mobility at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show on Monday. Meet the e-Palette concept, a cube-shaped self-driving and electric vehicle that wants to delivery pizza, packages, and serve as a ride-sharing vehicle.
The automaker said the e-Palette will serve as the main vehicle in its e-Palette Alliance. The newly founded alliance includes Uber, Amazon, Mazda, and Pizza Hut. The alliance aims to create some loose association of delivery, ride-sharing, and transportation services, but largely, Toyota is previewing a world where it provides the hardware, and other companies install their own software to operate the vehicle. It's the exact future Bob Lutz painted last year.
Companies that operate the e-Palette will load their own self-driving software of choice, while Toyota's own Guardian self-driving tech keeps the goods safe on the road. Perhaps most interesting is the e-Palette's flexibility. Toyota said the concept can be fitted with purpose-built interiors that allow the e-Palette to shift duties seamlessly. At one time, the vehicle could deliver parcels, but it could just as easily begin picking up riders for Uber. It's the electric skateboard concept that we've seen from multiple automakers.
Essentially, businesses can share the vehicle for a variety of needs. Furthermore, the automaker said the e-Palette would come in three sizes, thanks to its scalable architecture. Sizes even include enough room for retails spaces or hotel rooms. The design concept shown at CES measures in at 189 inches long, 79 inches wide, and 89 inches tall.
Toyota hopes to begin the e-Palette's first tests early next decade, but it also eyes the 2020 Olympic Games to potentially introduce the vehicle on a small scale. The automaker may supply mobility solutions to athletes competing at the games which is to be held in Tokyo.
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