Toyota Motor Corp. is a human movement company and this is what the Japanese car maker wants the world to know and wants to make it clear that it’s not only a car manufacturer.
The attempt of the Japan’s largest automaker to foray into other markets including rehabilitation robots to mobility services and its global rebranding were provided a platform at the Tokyo Motor Show this week which was adequately used by the company. Drawing inspiration from the athletes who’ll compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, of which Toyota is a top sponsor, the company has dubbed the initiative as “Start Your Impossible”. Possibly even a flying car, a redesigned national taxi fleet, AI-powered autonomous highway driving and a network of connected fuel cell buses are among the plans that the company wants to showcase that year and hence 2020 looms large on Toyota’s calendar.
“The passion for mobility goes beyond cars,” Toyota Executive Vice President Didier Leroy said during a presentation to open the motor show Wednesday. “For us, it means expanding our capability into technologies that can help people move around town or across the room.”
Amid what President of the company Akio Toyoda has called a once in a century paradigm shift for the auto industry, Toyota is far from alone in seeking new revenue streams. Even as vehicle sales plateau in major markets like the U.S., seeking to monetize car data and seeking revenue from services like ride-sharing are among the revenue seeking avenues that all major legacy car-making companies – from General Motors Co. to Volkswagen AG, are looking at. Upstarts like Tesla Inc. are also providing tough challenges to these legacy carmakers.
In early trading in Tokyo on Thursday here was a rise of o.2 percent in the shares of Toyota. The shares have climbed 23 percent from a low in April even though the stock is up only 1.7 percent for all of this year.
Particularly in developed countries including Japan, the evolving needs of rapidly aging populations are also being eyed by Toyoda. Robots aimed at keeping people moving is the core idea of one of the in-house companies that Toyoda introduced last year and which deals specifically in this aspect. The launch, earlier this year, of its first product, a walking rehabilitation robot, was made by the unit. A Segway-like device that doesn’t require the rider to lean in order to turn and a wheelchair-accessible microcar were unveiled by Toyota at the motor show in Tokyo.
“We have to make sure we can provide the appropriate mobility” for Japan’s elderly, Leroy said in an interview following the presentation. Giving people the freedom to move is “the best way to keep a young spirit.”
(Adapted from Bloomberg)