Toyota introduces new LPG hybrid taxi in Japan; trial of lane-specific congestion info from taxi data
Toyota Motor Corporation has introduced a new taxi vehicle for Japan, the “JPN Taxi.” Equipped with a newly developed liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) hybrid system, the new model offers 19.4 km/L (45.6 mpg US, 5.51 l/100 km) fuel economy and sharply reduced CO2 emissions. Toyota made enhancements to safety equipment, including adding the Toyota Safety Sense C package and six SRS airbags as standard features. The new model is now available at Toyota and Toyopet dealers nationwide.
The new model showcases a people-friendly, universal design that provides usability and comfort to a wide range of people through continual innovations and improvements, from grab handles to the overall vehicle structure. Design features include a low, flat floor, making it easy for customers to ingress and egress from the taxi, a wide-opening, power rear sliding door (left side only) and space to accommodate wheelchair users.
This model offers the driver an optimal range of vision, in part through innovations to the position and shape of the pillars and the use of fender mirrors. As a design priority for this taxi model, functionality was improved by positioning the dashboard instruments and other devices in the taxi to allow easy access, including the placement of the GPS system and taxi meter in a spot that is easy for customers to see.
The taxi is designed to beautifully complement the cityscape while at the same time being easily recognizable as a taxi. This is achieved in part due to the car’s styling as well as the body’s deep indigo (koiai) tone, a traditional color that has long been a symbol of Japan.
Toyota began its venture into the taxi industry in Japan in 1936 with the introduction of the Toyota Model AA. In 1953, Toyota released the Toyopet Super RH model and other vehicles, which have become fixtures helping transport many people over the years. Toyota taxis have and will continue to travel greater distances than the average vehicle and be used in the toughest road conditions. This could be considered the starting point for automobiles that pursue a vision of ideal automotive development.
JPN Taxi will be available in two grades: Standard and Premium. Toyota will exhibit the JPN Taxi at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show 2017, and also plans to use the taxi to greet visitors from around the world in 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Lane-specific congestion data. Separately, Toyota announced that as an outcome of ongoing verification testing being conducted with the Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations since April 2017, it will start on a trial basis a service that provides lane-specific traffic-congestion information to its TC Smartphone Navigation smartphone app. The information is to be generated by analyzing driving video and vehicle data collected from Toyota’s data-transmission TransLog driving recorder installed on 500 taxis operating in the Tokyo metropolitan area. This trial service is to start in the spring of 2018.
Toyota has been providing services such as airbag-deployment emergency notification, automatic navigational map-data updating and operator services using its data communications module (DCM) commercialized in 2002. Toyota started to make DCMs standard on Lexus-brand vehicles and optional on Toyota-brand vehicles in 2005. Using driving data collected from DCMs, Toyota also has been providing its “T-Probe” big-data traffic information service since 2011, which is currently available through original-equipment navigation systems and through Toyota’s TC Smartphone Navigation smartphone app.
The lane-specific traffic-congestion information Toyota plans to provide, complementing Toyota’s DCM-enabled services, is generated by AI-facilitated analysis of driving image data collected from TransLog units. Whereas conventional traffic-congestion information only informed drivers of traffic conditions for segments of roadway, Toyota’s newly developed system better supports drivers by providing information on traffic conditions by lane, with such information confirmable through on-screen photographs.
The lane-specific traffic-congestion information trial service is to only cover traffic conditions in the Tokyo metropolitan area and be accessible only via TC Smartphone Navigation. However, based on user rates and various technical evaluations, Toyota plans to consider expanding the areas covered and the types of devices through which the service can be accessed.
Also, from driving video data acquired through taxis, Toyota expects to be able to obtain information on road construction and traffic accidents, on roadway obstacles, as well as on parking-space vacancies and the degree of congestion around various retail outlets directly facing streets and other roadways. Toyota plans to advance its development of new traffic information services based on real-time extraction of key elements from such information.