Toyota continues to strive in creating accessibility and transportation solutions that are cherished and valued by the global community. It envisions in bringing the freedom to move to everyone.
One of the ways the car manufacturer is moving forward with its approach is through its global corporate initiative “Start Your Impossible”.
Launched in 2018, the campaign was a result of Toyota’s shift to become a mobility company and its eight-year partnership with The International Olympic and Paralympic Committees.
Furthermore, the campaign was made possible due to the company’s drive in realising its philosophy “Mobility for All”.
Toyota plays a crucial role in the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games as it sets to deploy a variety of innovative and environment friendly battery electric vehicles (BEV).
These state-of-the-art solutions were showcased at the recent Tokyo Motor Show, leaving spectators impressed and ecstatic with the looks and functions of the vehicles.
Each type of vehicle caters to different usage priorities for transporting athletes, staff and visitors with accessibility needs around the venues.
Beginning with Toyota’s most highlighted vehicle during the motoring event was the e-Palette; appearing on the stage of Toyota’s booth like from a sci-fi movie bringing inside it Toyota’s President Akio Toyoda.
From the side view, it has a symmetrical and distinctive cubic shape that is unlikely to be present in today’s vehicles.
The stability of the e-Palette is a reminiscent to a miniature monorail when Toyoda was seen standing comfortably inside as it manoeuvres smoothly without a driver.
Announced in 2018, the e-Palette is Toyota’s first autonomous vehicle and just for Tokyo 2020, it has been adapted to meet the unique needs of the Olympic and Paralympic game villages.
It features large doors and electric ramps that will allow athletes to board quickly and easily. The e-Palette can carry a maximum of 20 people.
It has a maximum speed of 20 km/hr and will be controlled automatically by an automated driving system, supported by an on-board safety operator. The battery-electric automated vehicle will have a cruising range of about 150 km.
Accessible People Mover (APM)
Consistent with the theme of accessibility, the APM or the Accessible People Mover is a smaller vehicle which will provide last mile solutions within the venue to a wide range of visitors especially elderly people, people with impairments, pregnant mothers and families with small children.
During a recent media tour, Toyota demonstrated that the APM can be used in several ways, depending on the configurations.
For instance, at maximum the APM can fit five people with its basic configuration. But with the front row passenger seats folded and be replaced with a built-in ramp, it can accommodate one passenger with a wheelchair with two passengers seated in the rear row.
Another set up is that one side of the seats stowed to make room for a full-length stretcher to transport the sick or injured while also accommodating another two passengers.
Moreover, in case of wet weather conditions, a roll-type transparent curtain stored in each pillar of the APM can be used to protect the passengers from wind and rain.
The maximum cruising range for the vehicle is approximately 100 km/hr.
Walking Area BEV
Faithful to the ideology of mobility, Toyota also introduced a personal mobility vehicle called the Walking Area BEV.
It is hoped to contribute to more efficient and smoother event management by providing for staff in various facilities during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
At one glance, it can look like a conventional electric scooter. It stands at about 1.2 metres tall and accommodates only one passenger.
On a single charge, it can travel up to 14 km/hr with switchable speeds of 2, 4, 6 or 10 km/hour.
According to Toyota’s info sheet, it said that “the security specification model has an attachment that can be equipped with an AED or a megaphone. Visibility is also enhanced with the blue LED.”
In addition, Toyota also said that a seated type and wheelchair-linked type are under consideration for those who use a wheelchair or with walking difficulties.
If we are to talk about size, then the SORA would be the largest of them all; a hydrogen fuel cell bus with the capacity of about 79 people at one time which translates to one crew member, 22 seated and the remaining passengers to stand.
What’s impressive is that the bus is capable of autonomously aligns itself to a bus stop and minimizes the gap between the platform and the bus entrance via the Automatic Arrival Control System which would assist in alighting of passengers with strollers or wheelchairs.
Another promise made by Toyota is to help create a more environmentally friendly 2020 Games which could potentially become a benchmark for future large-scale events.
According to the presentations made during the Ride Experience and Exhibition Tour, the hydrogen power technology behind the bus stems from the Toyota Fuel Cell System (TFCS).
The system was originally developed for the Toyota Mirai FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle) to achieve excellent environmental performance with no carbon dioxide or environmental pollutants emitted while in operation.
Toyota aspires to solve environmental and energy issues through mass production of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles which began with the sales of Toyota Mirai in December 2014.
Five years later today, Toyota has introduced a concept of the next generation Mirai.
In contrast with previous generations, the low lines, sleek taut bodywork and large, 20-inch wheels breathe new life to the exterior of the car.
As important as the outside, the interior of the vehicle is well equipped with a 12.3-inch-wide screen on the centre console and instrument panel that embraces the driver providing a simple yet modern space to create a feeling of warmth and comfort.
The core of the car which is the FCEV Technology is a fully redesigned system that delivers substantially improved performance than its predecessor.
It now sports a three-minute refuelling time and a 30 per cent increase in driving generation.
Furthermore, the Mirai can securely transport five people and 500 of the new sedans will be used for transporting the Games’ staff around Tokyo 2020 official venues.