Toyota thinks food trucks are the future of retail, and Amazon is in

0
30
views

Toyota Motor Corp. is trying to combine autonomous vehicles and retail into futuristic pop-up shops, and has convinced Amazon.com Inc. to help out.

At a news conference Monday at CES Media Days, Toyota TM, +0.45%  showed off a new concept called e-Palette, a vehicle similar to a food truck that is highly customizable—examples shown included a rolling restaurant, retail shop and donation-pickups vehicle. Partners in the company’s new e-Palette Alliance—which will “collaborate on vehicle planning, application concepts and vehicle verification activities,” according to an official announcement—include Amazon AMZN, +1.31%  , ride-sharing titans Uber and Didi Chuxing, Pizza Hut and Mazda Motor Corp. 7261, +1.63%  

“Imagine how great e-Palette would be at Burning Man,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda said at Monday’s event, where he claimed that Toyota must now challenge tech companies like Apple Inc. AAPL, -0.09% Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +0.40% GOOG, +0.46%  and Facebook Inc. FB, +0.68%  

Toyota and its partners will concentrate on firming up the concept, which is all-electric and built for autonomy. Partners will be able to install their own self-driving technology in e-Palette, Toyoda said, as part of the infinite theoretical customizations for the vehicle.

Users can completely customize the interior and exterior of the large, boxy vehicle, which Toyota hopes to offer in three sizes. The company hopes to conduct feasibility testing of the concept in the U.S. and elsewhere in the early 2020s, the company announced.

Toyota stock was up about 0.5% in Monday trading, after gaining about 12% in the past year. The S&P 500 has gained more than 20% in the same period.