The concept car was a hot topic at CES 2017. Chrysler, BMW, and Toyota showed off beautiful, smart concept cars of the future. Toyota’s Concept-i looks like a space pod from Planet X. Featuring gull-wing doors, a unique styling, and a pulsing center console, you’re not sure if you’re sitting in a car or a spaceship.
We look at Toyota’s Concept-i car and their version of the automobile’s future in the age of smart cars and the internet of things.
A Closer Look at the Toyota Concept-i Car from CES 2017
Toyota’s goals with the Concept-i car are simple: Make the car safer and change the way occupants interact with the car. The latter is a system Toyota has named Yui. From the moment you enter the car, Yui tends to your every need.
Interior and exterior graphics are used to share details about your trip. Lighting helps with ambiance and to alert occupants of certain things happening in and around the car on and off the road.
Toyota’s vision of the future of the smart car includes driverless autonomy but still integrates a manual mode for those not ready to let a car do the driving for them.
When designing the Concept-i, Toyota’s engineers worked backward starting with what the car looked like then integrating the UI into it. Many vehicle manufacturers looking towards the future are starting with the UI and what they want smart technology to do, then building what the car looks like.
For Toyota, keeping the car warm, friendly, and intuitive in design for occupants was a priority. As consumers look towards smart cars, they want to feel comfortable sitting in one which is why Toyota chose to develop this route.
There are many personal touches Toyota’s engineering team integrated into the Concept-i, such as it winking at you when you walk up to it, opening doors via biometrics and touch-to-start graphics.
The interior is designed to feel serene, with bright whites and transparency throughout the car so you can see the world around you as the driver or a passenger.
My Thoughts on the Toyota Concept-i Car
I had the opportunity on the show floor at CES to get an up close and personal look at the Concept-i car. It’s sleek and beautiful once you throw out your pre-conceived notions of what a car is supposed to look in today’s world. Overall, it looks comfortable and feels cozy.
When looking at the VR demo of how Yui works as a driver, I was impressed by the thought of making it seem more human was given to the design and functionality. For automakers looking to make smart and driverless cars, they’re going to have to overcome a person’s fear of giving up control and embracing the technology.
Of all the cars I saw on the show floor, Toyota was the only company which looked to put humanity into their concept car.
The Toyota Concept-i car may not be as fleshed out as other smart car concepts at CES this year, but I think it gives one of the brighter looks at the future of the automobile industry.
By injecting a bit of humanity into its UI and not overwhelming users with complicated displays and endless features, the Concept-i car at this stage is a welcome change of pace for consumers unsure of the smart car revolution upon us.
To learn more about the Toyota Concept-i car, visit their website here.