The car that thinks it's a phone
Published 28/11/2011 | 11:36
Car giant Toyota has unveiled a futuristic concept vehicle resembling a giant smartphone to demonstrate how it is trying to take the lead in technology.
At the Tokyo Motor Show it will also reveal a new electric vehicle, set for launch next year, and a tiny version of the hit Prius petrol-electric hybrid.
But president Akio Toyoda, chose to focus on the experimental Fun-Vii, which he called "a smartphone on four wheels" at a preview.
The car works like a personal computer and allows drivers to connect with dealers and others with a tap of a touch-panel door.
"A car must appeal to our emotions," Mr Toyoda said, using the Japanese term "waku waku doki doki," referring to a heart aflutter with anticipation.
Toyota's booth will be a major attraction at the biannual Tokyo exhibition for the auto industry. Toyota said the Fun Vii was an example of what might be in the works in "20XX," giving no dates.
The Tokyo show has been scaled back in recent years as US and European companies increasingly look to China and other places where growth potential is greater.Ford is not even taking part in the show.
Toyota's electric vehicle FT-EV III, still a concept or test model, does not have a price yet, but is designed for short trips such as grocery shopping and work commutes, running 65 miles on one full charge. The new small hybrid will be named Aqua in Japan, where it goes on sale next month. Overseas dates are undecided. Outside Japan it will be sold as a Prius.
Toyota is also premiering a fuel-cell concept vehicle, FCV-R, at the show. Zero-emission fuel cell vehicles, which run on hydrogen, have been viewed as impractical because of costs. Toyota said the FCV-R is a "practical" fuel-cell, planned for 2015, but did not give its price.