Toyota and the changing face of personal mobility
Thursday, 29 March 2018
Alistair Davis, CEO of Toyota New Zealand
The motor industry and personal mobility are changing radically and Toyota is leading the way in making changes to its overall business to keep pace.
“Vehicles have until recently always been powered by an internal combustion engine, either petrol or diesel,” said Alistair Davis, the CEO of Toyota New Zealand.
“Outside factors – climate change and regulations requiring less or no emissions are starting to have a big impact on the future of our industry.”
“People have always driven themselves, but advancing technology is making levels of autonomous mobility a reality with the added benefit of improved road safety, and more efficient motoring,” said Mr Davis.
Changing habits in large cities are seeing fewer young people owning vehicles and more dependence on Mobility as a Service options.
“Traditionally vehicles have been sold through dealerships where they are also serviced. But the internet’s impact is transforming the retail landscape and the motor industry is no exception,” says Mr. Davis.
Some of these changes will not come to fruition until the middle of the century when the majority of new vehicles sold will be electrified in some way, said Mr Davis, who pointed out that many of the new conventional vehicles sold now will still be around for the next 20-25 years. But the changes in the motor industry are starting to gather momentum now.
Toyota and Lexus’ self-charging electric hybrid vehicles, which started with the Prius have been around for 20 years and now include Camry, Corolla and the majority of the Lexus model range.
Globally Toyota is committed to making available an electric or electric hybrid version in every vehicle range by around 2025.
Much of the autonomous technology like active radar cruise control, lane departure warning and autonomous braking are already in many Toyota and Lexus vehicles, said Mr Davis.
Changes in mobility will have a big impact on the next 100 years just like the development of the automobile itself has done over the last 100 years, says Mr Davis. Oil will eventually become less valuable as the demand for it reduces.
“But then there is the potential problem of how to produce electricity cleanly. Hydro, wind and solar production are all expected to grow – an area where New Zealand is well served, but much of the rest of the world is not.”
Toyota and some other companies are exploring producing electricity from hydrogen, but it requires more capital-intensive infrastructure than the cost of charging points for plug in hybrid electric or full electric vehicles.
Autonomous vehicles will reduce accidents, give those who cannot self-drive more freedom and will have a significant impact on the insurance and health industries, said Mr Davis.
“Commuting time will potentially become more productive with the first full autonomous vehicles moving from the test phase to the consumer market in Japan and North America in the next few years.”
Combining car sharing, mobility as a service, and autonomous vehicles will change urban planning with less requirement for car parking, a greater variety of business models for many industries and potentially less road investment, he said.
Mobility as a Service is developing constantly with tie ups between manufacturers and rental companies/Uber and other similar operations.
“In New Zealand we have invested through Toyota Financial Services in a car sharing software company Mindkin, with trials already underway in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North,” said Mr Davis.
In the near future, like many other retail products and services the ability to reserve or purchase vehicles online will also increase, but Toyota says they are still committed to a strong dealer network and their critical role in delivering hospitality and customer service.
The ‘Drive Happy Project’ which Toyota New Zealand launches in April 2018 introduces some significant changes to how customers interact with the brand, and is Toyota’s commitment to transforming the retail experience for its customers to meet the needs of the 21st century.