Toyota is becoming a mobility company
Toyota is making a statement at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show: it wants to reshape itself into a global mobility company. The philosophy behind it is providing ‘Mobility for All’.
Toyota announced its plan to transition into a global mobility company already at the CES 2018 (Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas), where the e-Palette was unveiled by Toyota President Akio Toyoda, as a MaaS concept (Mobility as a Service).
Movement to all
The new corporate focus is now on products and services designed to extend freedom of movement for everyone, without exception. This shift is built on the understanding of the four key technology and societal trends, combined in the well-known acronym CASE, for Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric.
At the Tokyo Motor Show, and in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where Toyota is top sponsor, Japan’s number one is fully displaying its willingness to go further, also by a somewhat provoking show lay-out.
No ‘ordinary’ cars on the stand here, but exhibits and prototypes that illustrate the company’s mobility ambition, and its vision to foresee this for all persons on every occasion. The new cars themselves were hidden, on other stands, for example, those of JAMA, the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association.
But on its own stands, the vehicles on display are those that will be used to transport people or things at the Olympics in a most sustainable way, or concepts that predict or symbolize the mobile future ahead.
No ordinary cars then?
Of course, Toyota still wants to sell ‘ordinary’ cars; after all it’s a global player, and not everyone on earth is already thinking of the transition. A lot of new customers are still dreaming of their first car ever.
That’s why the new Yaris was also at the show (but you had to search for it), as was the Mirai II, the second generation of Toyota’s hydrogen car, and the LQ Concept, previously shown as the Concept-I, but now in a further stage of development.
Electrified and autonomous
For years now, Toyota has been the pioneer of the hybrid car, both producing hybrids and plug-in hybrids in the highest numbers in the car industry. But even Toyota sees that diversification is the solution. Very soon, there will be electric Toyota and Lexus models, the energy coming from batteries and (indirectly) from hydrogen via fuel cells.
The first at Toyota will be a small battery-electric vehicle, the concept of it being on the stand and called Ultra-Compact BEV. Even the heavily hybridized Lexus brand will soon have a BEV; it is presenting a sort of crossover BEV just next month.
Emotions stay important
But at Toyota, they want to look further. That’s why they have a Toyota Research Institute (TRI) in Silicon Valley, and they just opened its Japanese branch in the center of Tokyo, called Tri-aD, for Technology Research Institute – Advanced Development.
In this Institute, most resources (and they are huge) go into artificial intelligence and automation. “At Toyota, we understand the importance of developing new technologies to amplify human capabilities, not just to replace them,” says Gill Pratt, CEO of TRI.
The benefits are both practical and emotional. “Robots that can assist us or cars that avoid crashes will offer direct physical benefits to individuals and society,” Pratt continues. “But the technology that will allow us to age with dignity and take greater joy in personal mobility will also offer enormous emotional benefits.”
It’s also a signal of a fastly aging society that practically all Japanese manufacturers are seriously thinking about mobility for the elderly and the disabled. But also here Toyota wants to take the lead, offering mobility that improves society.
As a manufacturer, Toyota, wants to make profits by selling cars, but moreover, its aim to provide mobility for all is a social and societal one. It makes Japan’s biggest a little different from others, but who are we to complain about that.