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This is part of a series looking back at show vehicles that we felt deserved a bit more attention than they received. Please let us know if you would like to suggest a Forgotten Concept.
First Shown2001 Tokyo Motor Show
Description: Subcompact mobility chair
Sales Pitch: “It knows how you feel.”
Toyota Pod Concept first appeared at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show. It was a design study and a motoring therapist. Designed by Sony in collaboration, the Pod featured a number of features that we would now associate Amazon Alexa with.
The small upright vehicle featured front doors that hinged from the front, while the rear doors hinged from the rear. This arrangement allowed for a large contiguous door opening when both of the doors were opened at once. Seating inside was in the form of upright stools that rotated to face the nearest exit or entrance. Each seat had a tablet-like computer mounted on it. The tablets could be used to create shopping lists, among other useful tasks.
And, using a number of sensors—including a heartrate monitor–the Pod was, per Toyota, able to discern the driver’s mood, and display it via a series of mood-appropriate colors displayed via exterior LED lighting (see pics below). And, were the mood sufficiently positive, the Pod’s taillike rear antenna would wag.
Toyota has not revealed much about the Pod’s mechanical details, but we do know that the concept bubble car was powered by a 1.5-liter engine with 110 horsepower.
Toyota’s automotive mood ring has long since been forgotten, though the designed-in shopping feature was certainly predictive, though the company was mum on many of the specifics, such as how shopping lists become fulfilled orders.
It’s a bit silly, but it makes for some fun auto-show eye candy. And, since 2001, we’ve seen plenty of colored LED lighting systems make it into production cars, though generally the interior, and generally with no claim to represent the emotional well being of the driver.
Toyota Pod Gallery
Click below to view enlarged images