This is an installment in a series of posts looking back on show cars that we feel deserved a little more attention than they got. If you have a suggestion for a Forgotten Concept topic, please shoot us a line or leave a comment below.
First Shown: 2001 Tokyo Motor Show
Description: Subcompact mobility lounge
Sales Pitch: “It knows how you feel.”
First seen at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, the Toyota Pod Concept was part design study, part motoring therapist. Designed in cooperation with Sony, the Pod included a number of features we might now associate with Amazon Alexa.
The small upright car featured front doors hinged at the front, and rear doors hinged at the rear, an arrangement that created a huge contiguous access port when both doors were opened simultaneously. Inside, seating came by way of upright stool-style chairs, each of which rotated toward the nearest door for easier ingress and egress. Mounted to each seat was something akin to tablet computer. The tablets were to be used for a number useful tasks, including creating shopping lists.
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 shared little regarding the Pod mechanically, though we do know the bubbly concept was powered by a 110-horsepower 1.5-liter engine.
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.
The mood lighting stuff is silly, though it makes for 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 for enlarged images)