An underlying theme of Tokyo Motor Show 2011 seems to be the future of vehicle connectivity and communications. Toyota and Yamaha Motors used the show to highlight concept vehicles that could pave the way for an interconnected transportation system. The Toyota Fun-Vii, the PAS WITH and the EC-miu could communicate with surrounding vehicles as well as transportation infrastructure to ensure safer commutes. These concepts also highlight the focus of Japanese vehicle manufacturers on a broad spectrum of transportation solutions.
The Vii in Fun-Vii stands for Vehicle, Interactive and Internet. This unique concept has a smooth black exterior that doubles as a display surface. Dealerships can use the Fun-Vii not only as a floor model but a digital display for vehicle information. Municipalities could incorporate this vehicle into their fleets to provide emergency information while companies could display ads during their daily routes. A driver can access a navigation concierge from the cockpit, which provides driving tips and turn-by-turn routes. The vehicle’s wireless communications system handles updates for driving software, communicates with other vehicles about traffic patterns and networks with emergency services.
Toyota’s collaboration with Yamaha yielded the PAS WITH and EC-miu concepts presented at Tokyo. The PAS WITH is an electric bike ideal for urban commuters who are weaving through heavy traffic. The EC-miu is an electric scooter suitable for younger drivers who want to avoid parking tickets and gas prices. These concepts represent three goals established by Toyota and Yamaha in their most recent collaboration. Both automakers want to collaborate on information technology, reduce costs of development and encourage vehicle sharing among their customers. The PAS WITH and EC-miu are equipped with wireless technology that could allow information sharing about utility costs, maintenance and rental reservations.
The potential benefits of vehicle interconnectivity cannot be realized without cooperation among automakers, municipalities and technology developers. Toyota and Yamaha are testing vehicle communications systems in Japan over the next five years. These tests will focus not only on vehicle technology but connectivity with chargers like the Toyota G-Station. The connectivity issue must be resolved if consumers, cities and automakers want to develop greener transportation. Toyota and Yamaha should be joined by fellow Japanese automakers during initial testing to develop EV infrastructure in major urban areas like Tokyo. This collaboration would start the line of dominoes toward global cooperation on EV connectivity and infrastructure.