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10 Sep, 2012

Toyota’s Three NextGen Products Impacting the “Future of Mobility”

Emerging from a series of financial and quality-control problems, as well as the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Toyota Motors Corp has published its Sustainability Report 2011 identifying trends that will change the “future of mobility” and the kind of products and services that will be needed to match those trends.

It projects demand for three key types of vehicles — the “winglet” (single-passenger units similar to the sedgway), environmentally-friendly vehicles powered by alternative energies, and vehicles for the world’s rapidly growing ageing populations.

An introduction to the report, released on 5 September, says, “In the midst of reflection on falling into the red and a series of quality problems, Toyota came to realize the necessity of having a dream or goal that all people who work for Toyota could have in common.”

This led to the articulation of the Toyota Global Vision on March 9th, 2011. However, just two days later, Japan was hit by the Fukushima disaster, which also affected production and deliveries.

These developments are factored into the Sustainability Report 2011 which is centered on the theme “Global Vision for Those We Serve.” It “explains what kind of company Toyota wants to be  — what kind of company Toyota should be to our stakeholders.”

In FY2010, which ended March 2011, Toyota was represented in 173 countries and regions outside Japan, with its product range including 66 models. Total units sold: North America: 2.03 million; Japan: 1.91 million; Asia/Middle East: 1.82 million; Central and South America: 0.28 million; Oceania: 0.25 million; Africa: 0.21 million.”

Says the report, “In order to ensure the sound future development of mobility society that relies on automobiles as a means of transportation, it is necessary to minimize their impact on the environment as well as significantly reduce traffic accidents, traffic congestion and other negative aspects.

“Toyota takes a proactive stance to realize new sustainable society of which quality is enhanced by providing safe mobility through interaction with the transport infrastructure, low-carbon and comfortable vehicles, and systems that link people, vehicles, robots and houses.

“Utilizing our strength like housing and information technologies, we are also engaged in various fields such as energy management in communities, reduction of traffic congestion, and the realization of new communication.”

Key trends identified in the report:

Initiatives to Partner Robots and Personal Mobility

In the midst of such major societal fluctuations as an aging society, a declining birth rate and changes in population dynamics, the need for robotics development is rising. Hence, cutting-edge technology from various disciplines including the automotive and IT industries has been married in the development of partner robots with the goal of practical use in the early 2010s.

Winglet, the personal mobility robot currently under development, will be very small, lightweight, and compact, universal in that anyone can operate it easily. The vehicle will be portable, and can be carried onto buses and trains and other public transportation. It will be a seamless single-passenger personal EV that takes people, society and the environment into consideration, and aims to create a new type of personal mobility for people’s new lifestyles in the future.

In the development stage, Toyota put Winglets into airports and commercial facilities to be used for work on a trial basis, started allowing the public to take trial rides at the standing facility MEGA WEB, events, etc., so that now, more than 6,000 people have taken trial rides on Winglets.

In October 2010, with Toyota City and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Toyota conducted trials of this very small personal mobility device on roads and sidewalks in town. Citizens of Toyota City acted as monitors, who tested the little vehicle and evaluated its capabilities as a transportation device for achieving harmony between people, streets, and the city.

Now safety regulations and evaluation standards for mobility and robot devices in the collaboration of industry, government and education toward the realization of a society where new mobility and partner robots coexist with people.

Enriching Welcab (Welfare Vehicle) Lineup that Helps Comfortable Mobility

Toyota has developed the assisted-mobility vehicle, Welcab. In order to respond to the diversifying needs we have filled out our lineup, and in FY2010 we expanded to a total of 28 models with 52 types, including a nursing care version used by caregivers to transport disabled persons, and a self-operated version. Also, the company is endorsing the establishment of “Welcab Stations” in Toyota dealerships nationwide, and set up in a total of 108 dealers with 188 outlets (as of the end of March 2011).

Smart Grid Envisioned by Toyota

Next-generation, environment-friendly vehicles will play an important role in realizing a low-carbon society, which will see the launch of Toyota’s PHV (plug-in hybrid vehicle) and EV (electric vehicle) models in 2012. However if many cars charge their batteries during specific hours of the day, it will boost the entire society’s peak power demand. Therefore the development of infrastructure to properly control power demand is needed.

Click here to download the report


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