The Toyota e-Palette: Box On Wheels Or Box Fresh Thinking? - AllCarIndex

The Toyota e-Palette: Box On Wheels Or Box Fresh Thinking?

Apr 19, 2018

the autonomous car market is no doubt a huge area of growth and aspiration within the industry. however, until now consumers have been reluctant to embrace this technology, with 46% of us drivers reportedly feeling unsafe at the prospect of sharing the road with a driverless vehicle. that said, it is a lower percentage than that reported earlier in 2017, so it seems that the mood is changing.  the unveiling of toyota's bold e-palette concept at ces 2018, may help this even further. the boxy, modular shape may seem clunky to lovers of good design, but the very fact that it’s so highly differentiated from other vehicles on the road may actually help it to win over the consumer.

caution around autonomous vehicles

while the majority of rtas are caused by human error, from the stats above, people still feel uncomfortable at the thought of ceding control of their vehicle to a computer. an interesting suggestion is that most people believe they are better drivers than average, so would rather place their confidence in themselves. the insurance market is also entering new territory with the development of the autonomous motor industry, as the traditional model of providing quotes for individual drivers becomes more complex. insurers know they will need to diversify as the market grows, although fortunately they have time on their side. similarly, regulators need to work out how to respond to and structure this new industry, and the accompanying changes that need to be made to infrastructure and the law.

what does e-palette offer that’s different?

against this background, the e-palette is a peppy contender.  being so different from a traditional car design, and so clearly differentiated in purpose as evidenced by tie-ins with amazon and pizza hut, it may just be non-threatening enough to get road users feeling comfortable again.  as and when e-palette vehicles take to the road, they will of course need an impeccable safety record, but the current waymo example is a strong one.  this could win them new friends; and that gained trust could be the jump off point for the entire autonomous vehicle industry.

while there is still much to come in the autonomous vehicle industry, and specifically from toyota with regard to future progress on the e-palette, this could be a significant milestone.  by being quirky and differentiated, the e-palette might just capture the imagination and become a trusted fellow road user. from that point, for those who are currently feeling apprehensive, the step of handing over control of your vehicle to a machine may not seem so unreachable. a chunky box may hold the key for the industry.

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