It seems that at least a few of our readers have been watching the Olympics. I know this not because of the real-time data coming from the vaccine-injected microchips we get our traffic data from, but because we’ve received some questions about a weird-looking futuro-car they saw driving in the broadcast of the men’s marathon event. I know what it is! I have an answer for you!
That marathon was run a few days ago, and was won by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, in case you’re interested. Also, if you haven’t seen it or the car we’re talking about, here’s some coverage of the marathon where you can see it, and here’s another:
You can see the car at various points in both of these:
Okay, so, what is this thing?
Relax, I’m telling you! It’s a 2017 Toyota concept that was called the Concept-i. Here’s the video trailer they made when it debuted at CES:
Note the extensive use of integrated displays on the body. In these videos you can make out the headlight-shapes and it looks like the rear display is showing something as well, but it’s hard to make out exactly what.
There are points where you can definitely tell that something is changing on that display, though, so that’s pretty fun.
It’s an electric concept, and I think there was some vague PR-talk about autonomy and all that, but it’s a concept car, so the truth is likely that it just had a pretty basic electric powertrain, and was driven by a person during the marathon.
Toyota isn’t going to unleash some unproven autonomous tech among a bunch of Olympic runners on live TV, I promise you that.
There was also a later development of this concept in 2019 called the LQ, but I think the one seen at the marathon was the earlier Concept-i, because it has those integrated displays, and the LQ has more conventional body panels:
They’re very similar-looking, but those displays are a giveaway.
I called an American Toyota rep for more information, but Toyota is only letting them talk about the athletes, no cars. Why do I want to talk to Toyota about athletes and not cars? That’s like me reaching out to Simone Biles’ PR team to find out what she thinks about the new GR 86. I mean sure, it’d be an honor to talk to her, she’s amazing, but I don’t think that’s her core competency.
Anyway, good for Toyota for recycling an old concept car! It looked good out there!