TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's biggest and richest carmaker, spent three years studying ground vehicles at the past two Olympics so it could improve transport at the 2020 Tokyo games. Now, a year before the opening ceremony, it has unveiled its bold ambition: Build a better golf cart.
Toyota's first dedicated Olympic vehicle, shown to reporters here on Thursday, will be a van-sized, open-air, three-row full-electric people mover that can seat five passengers and one driver.
Toyota dubs it the APM, short for Accessible People Mover.
The automaker said it plans to build 200 of the runabouts to shuttle staff, athletes and special needs visitors at the Olympics and Paralympics when Tokyo plays host to global athletic competitions next summer.
The APM lacked the pizzazz of many of the future mobility concepts long speculated about by Japanese media. First and foremost, has been the idea of a flying car to light the Olympic flame.
Toyota itself said last year that some of its funkiest concept vehicles will come to life as real, road-running models during the games. They will include, Toyota promised, an operating version of the Concept-i, an egg-shaped electric vehicle that senses a person's emotions using artificial intelligence. Also, on tap: a working e-Palette, a boxcar-like self-driving urban people mover.
Toyota is taking a special interest in the games because it is a top Olympics sponsor and the official "mobility partner" of the Olympics and Paralympics Games.
Toyota has said it plans to use the Tokyo games to showcase new mobility technology, saying a key priority is providing mobility for all people, especially those who cannot drive themselves.
To be sure, the APM is just the first of several vehicles expected to debut before the games convene. It is arguably also more practical than the other flights of fancy some envision.