toyota’s fully-autonomous electric store on wheels is already backed by amazon and uber


the future, as we know it, sits in showrooms in las vegas. little robots that help with this and that dance around CES 2018, but in some rooms — like the one housing toyota’s mobility/commerce ecosystem, e-palette — amazing, unsettling, black-mirror-esque wonders of tomorrow are revealed.

all images courtesy of toyota

toyota motor corporation president akio toyoda announced a new mobility service, a new business alliance, and a concept vehicle to tie it all together, the e-palette. it was announced at CES, not at a car show, so it really shouldn’t be thought of as a car at all. it’s fully autonomous, battery-electric, and, most interestingly, an open system; the open control interface will allow partner companies —such as already-on-board, amazon, didi, mazda, pizza hut and uber — to install their own automated driving system.

it’s a good hormone therapy for the in-transition mobility company; the alliance will create a broad-based ecosystem of hardware and software for companies to utilize and if everything goes as planned, the e-palette will leverage toyota’s proprietary mobility services platform (MSPF) into becoming a suite of connected mobility solutions.  the launch partners previously mentioned will collaborate on vehicle planning and application. with its open interior design layout, the vehicle can be outfitted accordingly, whether it be parcel delivery, ride sharing, or on-the-road e-commerce.

president akio toyoda had this to say about the ecosystem: ‘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.’

it’s an open, flexible system that just about every car company has quietly been trying to create/score alliances for. with amazon already on board, toyota seems to have a big head-start in defining the future of mobility—at least as far as commerce is concerned; however, the future might not be in one of these showrooms at all. some other car company or tech giant could have something even bigger up their sleeve — maybe all of them, maybe none of them.