November 29, 2011, 11:38 AM — It's difficult thing to say without reinforcing the warped view of the U.S. Supreme Court that corporations are people, but the announcement of a concept car at a major Tokyo auto show yesterday makes it painfully clear that Toyota Motor Corp. has lost its mind.
Yesterday Toyota put out a press release, pictures and clinically significant statements from the company's president touting its display of a car at this week's Tokyo Motor Show that is says more about Toyota's desperate need to be hip than it does about Toyota's engineering or IT skills.
The two-door, Fun-Vii (a name with no apparently logical origin) looks more like a giant computer mouse with wheels than it does a car.
The result is actually pretty cool, but not so flamingly obvious that even your favorite motorhead would be able to identify important things about the Fun-Vii just by looking at it – like which end is the front.
It is packed with very cool implementations of new and newish information technology, some of which will probably show up as standard equipment in other cars in the future, some of which should never be applied in this way to a vehicle to which humans entrust their lives.
Even the most useless or ridiculous gadgety bolt-ons are pretty cool, which is what makes clear the Fun-Vii is the product of a creative but critically flawed mind, rather than simply the highest pile of buzzwordy acronyms Toyota could fit on a four-wheel chassis without allowing anything to fall off.
The coolest is a series of panels that let passengers or drivers change the look of the patent-leather-black surface of the car by launching or changing digital images that will display on both the inside and outside skins of the "vehicle."
In the initial concept version the only displays on the outside are on the door panels; any theoretical production version would have similar displays on the roof, trunk and hood, according to Toyota's release.
On the inside, "the whole of the vehicle interior can function as a display space…freely adjustable to the moment. Content such as navigation information is blended seamlessly into the interior through the use of augmented reality."
By changing displays the whole interior of the vehicle can be changed on a whim "to match the mood of the moment," according to Toyota.
Toyota Motor Corp.