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Toyota President On Its New Mobility Service: Think How Great It Could Be 'At Burning Man'

Illustration for article titled Toyota President On Its New Mobility Service: Think How Great It Could Be At Burning Man

Introducing Toyota’s new body pod concept called the e-Palette at this year’s CES, the automaker’s president, Akio Toyoda, offered up a few ideas on how it could be utilized: parcel delivery, ride sharing, mobile e-commerce. Toyoda had one more: Burning Man! Yowza.

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Toyota scored a number of big-name partners to announce for the rollout of e-Pallete, including Uber, Amazon, Pizza Hut, and Mazda. It’s aiming to launch the service at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

When that happens, Toyoda told an adoring crowd of tech fanatics, he pitched the weird, self-driving boxes as a perfect utility for another Very Silicon Valley event.

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“Just think how great e-Palette will be at Burning Man,” Toyoda said. Hot damn.

Coming from Uber’s CEO or any cookie cutter Silicon Valley startup, this would be a throwaway comment. But it’s Toyoda! Expectedly, those in attendance were caught off guard by his insistence that e-Palette could be used at Burning Man—no, folks, this thing will be at Burning Man.

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It’s a brave new world folks. You know we’re in a new territory when the president of the world’s largest automaker is pitching his tech thing as a device to be used for the annual pilgrimage to Burning Man. I think it kind of depresses me, too.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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DISCUSSION

Someone gave Toyoda a 10-minute briefing on what goes on, but didn’t get around actually covering what Burning Man is.

Granted, a lot of what Burning Man is is now a mere shadow of what it was, and it is coming around to being the kind of thing that not only will, but should feature a Toyota e-Palette.

On that day, it will be Burnt Man, and no one will who ever wanted to go will want to go anymore except executives who want to walk around in t-shirts and nothing else, with their balls hanging out from under them, pretending to be counterculture and progressive while looking for the nearest place to get out of the sun and maybe score some spare filters for their dust masks because they accidentally lit their last one on fire while toking up on really bitchin reefer from that chick from Colorado.

That will be the Burning Man that features the e-Palette. Given my druthers, I say we try to put that off for a few more years.