The global auto industry is in the early stages of a global, technology-driven transition to a new era of transportation, and one of the largest legacy automakers is embracing the change. At the CES conference in Las Vegas, Toyota Motor Corp (ADR) (NYSE: TM) announced it will begin integrating Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) voice assistant Alexa into select Toyota models starting in 2018.
Toyota also said it will launch a new driverless mobile store concept starting in 2020.
Toyota said it will be including Alexa in all Toyota and Lexus models which have either the Toyota Entune 3.0 App Suite or the Lexus Enform App Suite 2.0. Alexa will allow Toyota drivers to use voice prompts to play music, find weather reports, interact with other Alexa-enabled devices, identify local businesses and navigate to destinations.
In addition to the Alexa integration, Toyota also revealed its new futuristic self-driving mobile store called “e-Palette.”
Toyota president Akio Toyoda says the e-Palette will be equipped meet a number of different needs, serving as a deli, pizza delivery service, retail store and even ride-hailing service.
“Today you have to travel to the store. In the future, the store will travel to you,” Toyoda said at the conference.
Toyota has already secured a number of partnerships related to the e-Palette, including Amazon, Yum Brands (YUM) and Uber. The company said it expects to have the mobile store ready for launch by the 2020 Olympics.
Toyota’s latest tech-centric announcements come just weeks after the company said in December that it plans to have hybrid and/or electric versions of all its vehicle models available by 2025. Toyota estimates it will sell 5.5 million electric vehicles annually by 2030 and plans to have 10 fully electric vehicle models on the global market by 2020.
Anna-Marie Baisden, head of autos research at BMI Research, says it makes financial sense for companies like Toyota to start small by targeting services such as delivery and ride-hailing with their first generation of autonomous vehicles.
“I think it would be difficult to start selling autonomous cars as you would traditional cars to individual buyers,” Baisden said on CNBC Tuesday.
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