Autonomous Car

Toyota’s Lead Designer Thinks Most Future Cars Will Be Generic Pods

The Supra’s days may be numbered before it even arrives

Toyota recently hired a new design chief who thinks the days of the Camry, Corolla, and even the Supra are coming to an end. According to Automotive News, Toyota design boss Simon Humphries believes fleets of autonomous, electric vehicles owned by corporate operators will displace personal, mass-market vehicles, leaving us with ride sharing to get us where we need to go. Still, there’s likely some room left for ultra-luxury vehicle ownership, he said.

"On one side we're going to see this optimized (transport) system, but on the other side you're going to see a pure race car," Humphries told reporters. "There will be an emotional solution, and a practical solution. So maybe the story is that the middle ground is increasingly going to disappear." The middle ground Humphries spoke of is virtually every single automobile currently on sale today, save high-performance and top-end luxury models for the super rich. Humphries is just the latest in a chorus of automotive industry insiders who’ve vocalized their beliefs on personal-car ownership’s road to extinction. Numerous automakers are developing autonomous vehicles to plan for that supposed eventuality, too—including Toyota.

The Japanese automaker most recently revealed an autonomous prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas called e-Palette, which it said it would make available in three different sizes: bus, shuttle, and a small delivery-type vehicle. Toyota envisions the concept could be put in service by numerous companies looking to move people and products from place to place. It's working on the concept with Amazon, Pizza Hut, Mazda, Uber, and Chinese ride-hailing company Didi. Humphries doesn’t think this autonomous, non-personal transportation future is necessarily a bad thing, either. "When you don’t have to hold a steering wheel, the world is your oyster."

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