Tag: Toyota

Toyota caves to pressure and adds CarPlay to new models

Many car manufacturers have joined the modern era by adopting Android Auto, Apple CarPlay or both, but not Toyota. It insisted on going its own way, and that has usually meant skipping its cars entirely if you cared about smartphone integration. Thankfully, the automaker has seen the light. The 2019 Avalon and future models (including Lexus vehicles) with an Entune 3.0 or Enform 2.0 system will support Apple CarPlay, letting you use the more sophisticated apps from your iPhone instead of making do with limited built-in features. CarPlay will be standard on all Avalon trim levels when the sedan goes on sale in late spring, although that's no guarantee it'll be standard on other models.

A spokesperson told MacRumors that CarPlay would initially be limited to US models, and that there's no wireless option. Also, there's no mention of Android Auto. If you carry an Android phone, you'll have to use the Avalon's Alexa voice control and smartwatch support. You do get Qi wireless charging and a WiFi hotspot feature, however.

Toyota hasn't outlined pricing for the Avalon, but its role as Toyota's flagship sedan suggests it won't be trivial. As such, the car giant isn't quite going toe-to-toe with smartphone-friendly rivals like Honda or Volkswagen, which offer Android Auto and CarPlay across a wide range of designs. It'll be a while before you can get a seamless smartphone interface in a new Corolla. Even so, it's good to know that the feature is at least on the horizon -- this closes a gaping hole and lets you focus your buying decision more on driving dynamics and style than on in-car tech.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from NAIAS 2018!

Via: AppleInsider, MacRumors

Source: Toyota


Toyota insists its e-Palette is more than a concept car

There's one thing that keeps Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda up at night. It's not a traditional car company like Honda, Ford or Nissan. Or what he's going to have for breakfast the next day. It's technology juggernauts like Facebook, Google and Apple and what might happen when they decide to enter the automotive industry proper. Will the company be ready? Is it doing enough to stay ahead of a potential broadside from Silicon Valley? The answer, Toyoda believes, is to morph Toyota into a data and smart mobility company. One that's less about selling cars and trucks and more about moving people, products and services in the most efficient way possible.

At the forefront of this change is the e-Palette, a fully autonomous electric vehicle with a deceptively simple design. It is, at its core, a box with eight wheels. The interior can be empty or filled with seats, screens or shelves. Toyota thinks it could be used for mass transit, parcel deliveries and temporary accommodation -- maybe all three on the same day, provided the furniture is easy enough to swap out. And there's no steering wheel, pedals or gearshift to worry about: The vehicle will be completely driverless. It is, in short, a blank slate for urban transportation.

At the heart of the e-Palette is the Mobility Services Platform (MSPF), a software layer that Toyota is developing for a seemingly inevitable future in which nobody owns a car. With MSPF, drivers can request and unlock a vehicle with their smartphone. On the back end, Toyota has fleet-management tools, so any company -- it could be Toyota itself or a company that owns a bunch of its vehicles -- can keep tabs on its driverless army remotely. Bryce Merckling, who works on mobility services at Toyota Connected, calls the e-Palette the "physical manifestation" of MSPF.

"It's the platform for the platform, essentially," he said.

To build e-Palette, though, Toyota needs some help. Amazon, Uber, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Chinese Uber rival Didi Chuxing have all agreed to form an "alliance" that will help Toyota take the project from ambitious concept to real-world vehicle. These partners are the sort of companies that might ultimately buy or lease the e-Palette on city streets. Pizza Hut could use a few to ferry deep pans around Chicago. Amazon might want a hundred to carry parcels between its enormous warehouses. They each have needs, questions and ideas that Toyota wants to hear to ensure the vehicle is a hit.

"Instead of trying to force something on them," Merckling explained, "we wanted to work with them from the get-go."

Each partner has an area of expertise to bring to the project. Uber, for instance, is the king of ride-sharing at the moment and has its own self-driving pilots under way. Amazon is an e-commerce titan that delivers a small country's worth of parcels every day. And Pizza Hut? Well, Pizza Hut delivers pizza -- and people like pizza. "We just wanted to be involved with partners that we thought were really important," Merckling explained.

Amazon and Uber, surprisingly, are happy to be working with each other. Normally they're competitors (both have food-delivery services, for instance), but here their needs are aligned: Both want an autonomous, electric vehicle to move things around. Toyota has also promised to keep the e-Palette "open." That means Uber should, in theory, be able to plug its own autonomous-driving software into the MSPF and keep a crucial edge over its ride-hailing rivals. "That was a big deal for them," Merckling said.

At the moment, Toyota is planning to build the e-Palette in three sizes: small, medium and large. They're all the same width and height -- only the length varies between vehicles. Merckling stressed, though, that this could change in the future. In fact, almost everything about the project could change as Toyota consults further with the e-Palette alliance. The company isn't sure, for instance, what its final business model will be. It could sell the pods to companies or have a fleet that businesses are able to dynamically hire, customize and then return throughout the day. "Right now we're open to everything," Merckling said.

There are challenges ahead. EV batteries, for instance, need to improve or the fleet will struggle to keep up with demand. Citizens and companies will request them -- but all the pods will be stuck at chargers or unable to reach their final destination. To solve the problem, Toyota is working on flatter, higher-density "prismatic" batteries with Panasonic. "Further evolution, in terms of performance, price and safety, and the securing of stable supply capacity, are pressing issues," Toyoda said when the pair announced their partnership last month.

Toyota also needs to think about public safety and how the e-Palette fits into public policy around the world. Legislators are slowly preparing for a future with autonomous cars. However, with its multipurpose design, the e-Palette is quite different from the average Tesla. Toyota has, however, already won the support of one city. It plans to run the e-Palette alongside other mobility solutions during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. "Toyada-san is very ambitious," Merckling said. "He always has been. So when he gives a deadline like that, he really wants to meet it. He's not just throwing something out there for fun."

Toyota hopes to have trials in North America and Europe shortly after the games. A full commercial launch is, of course, a long way off. But the company is hell-bent on bringing the e-Palette concept to life. "It's going to be a fun challenge," Merckling added. "We don't want this to be a concept vehicle that's shown off one time and then it's gone. We actually want to develop this and have it on the road." If Toyota can do that while keeping its original vision intact, it will be the CEOs of Facebook and Apple, rather than Toyoda, who are kept up at night.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.


Engadget Today | CES 2018: It’s a wrap!

That's it, the show's over! It's been a wild ride, as usual. After landing here a week ago, we're glad to be packing up and heading back to our own homes, but we'll always have a soft spot in our hearts for the LVCC. We can't wait to see all the new gadgets from the show in the review lab, but for now, it's adios, see you next year.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.


Ford will fit auto emergency brakes on two 2019 models

Ford always seems to be on the back foot when it comes to vehicle innovation -- it only began working on a robotics team last year, for example. Now the brand is playing catch-up again, announcing plans to install automatic emergency brakes as standard on two key 2019 models, which is something its rivals have been doing for a while.

The brakes, designed to help drivers avoid collisions, will be fitted on Ford's redesigned 2019 Edge midsize crossover and its 2019 Ranger midsize pickup. The Edge also offers a range of new optional safety features, including automatic steering assist and a revamped cruise control system.

According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, four out of 20 carmakers installed these kinds of brakes on at least half of their US models in 2017. They can be found on 56 percent of Toyota's fleet, compared to less than 10 percent of Ford's.

Twenty brands have pledged to fit all of their new passenger vehicles with automatic emergency brakes by September 2022, but Ford has so far kept its own plans, if any, quiet. Raj Nair, president of the company's North American operations, has only said that Ford intends to be "more aggressive" in standardizing safety features.

Source: Reuters


Toyota is the latest auto maker to add Alexa to its cars

Using Alexa in your car is getting more ubiquitous. Ford, Hyundai and Volkswagen all have plans for Amazon's voice control tech, and third parties like Anker, Panasonic, Garmin and Logitech have their own strategy to help you use Alexa while you drive. Now, Toyota has plans to include Amazon's intelligent assistant in select Toyota and Lexus vehicles starting this year. The company also announced at CES that more models will include Alexa via the Toyota Entune and Lexus Enform in-car app systems in 2019.

Once you've enabled Alexa in your Toyota or Lexus, you can ask it do to pretty much everything you might at home, including adjusting your smart thermostat, adding items to your shopping list and listening to music or audiobooks with a voice command. "Voice services are rapidly becoming more popular and through our integration with Amazon Alexa, Toyota and Lexus customers will soon be able to easily speak to Alexa in their cars while on-the-go," said Toyota's Zack Hicks in a statement.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

Source: Toyota


Toyota is the latest automaker to add Alexa to its cars

Using Alexa in your car is getting more ubiquitous. Ford, Hyundai and Volkswagen all have plans for Amazon's voice control tech, and third parties like Anker, Panasonic, Garmin and Logitech have their own strategy to help you use Alexa while you drive. Now, Toyota has plans to include Amazon's intelligent assistant in select Toyota and Lexus vehicles starting this year. The company also announced at CES that more models will include Alexa via the Toyota Entune and Lexus Enform in-car app systems in 2019.

Once you've enabled Alexa in your Toyota or Lexus, you can ask it do to pretty much everything you might at home, including adjusting your smart thermostat, adding items to your shopping list and listening to music or audiobooks with a voice command. "Voice services are rapidly becoming more popular and through our integration with Amazon Alexa, Toyota and Lexus customers will soon be able to easily speak to Alexa in their cars while on-the-go," said Toyota's Zack Hicks in a statement.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

Source: Toyota


Toyota introduces e-Palette, its mobile retail space

The news of CES is mobility and Japanese automaker Toyota isn't about to be left out. At the annual consumer electronics conference the company that brought us the Prius announced its mobile marketplace, e-Palette meant to open up opportunities for businesses to create on-demand services and to "blur the lines between brick and mortar and online commerce."

It'll be fully electric and support autonomous driving technologies either from Toyota or from the companies that use it. It's an open platform for ride-sharing, retail, delivery, or really anything a business can think of.

"Just think how great e-Palette will be at Burning Man," Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation said during the press event.

Toyoda started off the press event announcing, "It's my goal to transition Toyota from an automobile company to a mobility company." He announced the automaker's latest competitors, Google Apple and Facebook.

The automaker already has partners for its new mobility platform. The e-Palette Alliance includes Pizza Hut, Uber, Mazda, Amazon and Didi. It's not too difficult to imagine an Amazon locker on wheels rolling into your neighborhood.

While this isn't a consumer product, it does show that Toyota is thinking about how it'll transition to a world with fewer people buying cars. Toyoda said he's "Less concerned with getting there first, than getting it right. For me, e-Palette is one such example."


Toyota’s new self-driving test car can better recognize small objects

Toyota Research Institute (TRI) will debut the latest version of its automated driving research vehicle at CES next week. TRI had three major goals with this latest model and Platform 3.0 incorporates them all into a car with more perception capabilities, a design that's easier to produce at scale and a much sleeker look. "To elevate our test platform to a new level, we tapped Toyota's design and engineering expertise to create an all-new test platform that has the potential to be a benchmark in function and style," TRI CEO Gill Pratt said in a statement.

First, the vehicle now has 360-degree LiDAR sensing -- previous platforms only had forward-facing LiDAR sensing capabilities -- and new shorter-range LiDAR sensors placed lower to the ground allow for detection of smaller objects like road debris or children.

Secondly, Platform 3.0, built on a Lexus LS 600hL, will go into low-volume production this spring and will come in two versions. One will feature a dual cockpit design, allowing for TRI to experiment with methods that transfer driving control between humans and the automated system. It can also accommodate a backup safety driver. A second model will incorporate a single cockpit and will test TRI's full automation technology. TRI says the production is intentionally low because the team keeps updating the technology so quickly. It just came out with Platform 2.0 in March and Platform 2.1 in September.

Finally, in partnership with CALTY Design Research, Toyota engineers worked to incorporate a lot of the automated technology hardware into the car itself, minimizing what has to protrude from the top of the car and what has to be stored in the trunk. Now, the rooftop sensors and cameras sit closer to the car itself and are covered by a panel that tapers sleekly towards the rear of the vehicle. And the trunk is no longer taken up entirely by the computational hardware but instead houses a small box that contains the necessary equipment.

You can check out Platform 3.0 in the video above and be sure to follow along with our CES coverage next week.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Toyota


BMW partnership will develop solid-state EV batteries

BMW is jumping into the solid-state battery game and it's doing so by teaming up with battery-developer Solid Power. The company is a spin-out from the University of Colorado Boulder and has been developing solid-state rechargeable batteries since 2012. BMW is partnering with Solid Power to bring its battery technology to electric vehicles. "Since the company's inception, the Solid Power team has worked to develop and scale a competitive solid-state battery paying special attention to safety, performance and cost," Doug Campbell, founder and CEO of Solid Power, said in a statement. "Collaborating with BMW is further validation that solid-state battery innovations will continue to improve electric vehicles."

Solid-state batteries offer a few advantages over the lithium-ion batteries largely in use today including greater energy density and, therefore, increased driving range when used in EVs, less chance of fire or explosion and rapid recharging. The benefits of solid-state batteries are why so many companies, including Fisker, Toyota and Google, are looking to develop the technology and ultimately incorporate them into their products.

Batteries that limit EVs' driving ranges will certainly keep these types of vehicles from becoming mainstream. So technology that can stretch those driving distances and make EVs as convenient as traditional gas-powered cars will be a must when it comes to expanding their use and, therefore, the environmental benefits they afford.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Solid Power


Toyota plans to sell more than 10 electric cars by the early 2020s

Toyota recently hinted that it was finally ready to embrace pure electric cars, and now we have a better sense of what that commitment entails. The automaker has outlined its goals for low- and zero-emission cars in the next decade, and it expects to field "more than 10" EVs worldwide by the early 2020s, starting with China before spreading to markets like Europe, Japan and the US. And by 2025, every Toyota and Lexus will either be EV-only or have an electrified option like a hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell.

Not that the company's goals are especially ambitious. It hopes to have sold somewhere over 1 million zero-emission cars (either pure EVs or hydrogen models) by 2030, and 5.5 million with some kind of electric powerplant. That sounds like a lot, but it's fairly modest in practice. Ford has said that it wants at least 10 percent of its sales to be EVs by 2020, while GM hopes to have 20 EVs on the market by 2023. And of course, Tesla may well beat Toyota's numbers far in advance. There were roughly half a million Model 3 reservations by August, and that's not including other EV models.

Nonetheless, the targets are important. Even though Toyota is hedging its bets by making hydrogen a part of its future, it's treating EVs as a significant part of its lineup. And when Toyota is clearly one of the world's largest car brands, that's bound to make an impact on what people drive. You may at least consider an electrified car where it wasn't an option before.

Source: Toyota