Forget that Lamborghini, if you’re a Slicon Valley billionaire Toyota’s Fine-Comfort Ride is your next car. It’s clean, self-driving and offers a collaborative workspace
TOKYO, JAPAN — What will a luxury car look like a decade from now? Toyota’s Fine-Comfort Ride concept, offered a few suggestions. A Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV), it combines hydrogen with oxygen to create electricity (emitting only water vapour in the process), and can cover 1,000km after a five-minute stop to refuel, unlike EVs that must be charged for hours.
More importantly, the Fine-Comfort Ride is propelled by electric motors that directly drive each wheel. This does away with the engine, transmission and driveshafts that limit where a car’s wheels can be located, so its own wheels are placed at the far corners of its body, creating not only a stable stance, but space for an enormous cabin.
Being autonomous, the Fine-Comfort Ride is thus something of a mobile collaborative workspace. Its seats can be rotated to turn the cabin into a meeting room, and its creator, Takao Sato, imagines such a car being used by what he calls the “new creative rich”, presumably wealthy Silicon Valley types who would rather have a clean, self-driving productivity aid than a pollutive Lamborghini. “The way vehicles will be used in future will be different,” said Mr Sato. “That’s what we had in mind for this concept.”
He said Toyota aims to build a car based on the Fine-Comfort Ride and launch it sometime between 2025 and 2030, when the various technologies behind it are ready.
It will have to be for the wealthy because fuel cell technology is still enormously expensive. The Sora, a fuel cell bus that Toyota launched at Tokyo, costs four to five times as much as a conventional bus. The technology may take two decades to fall in price by just 20 percent, Mr Sato estimates.
Yet, Toyota is nothing if not patient. Its two major goals — reducing fatalities from traffic accidents to zero and building cars that emit just 10 percent of the carbon emissions that its cars did in 2010 — have a target date of 2050.