• Kyodo

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Toyota Motor Corp. is considering trials using autonomous vehicles to transport residents and deliver food in central Japan by the late 2020s as it focuses on new mobility services using self-driving technology, company sources said Friday.

Toyota will likely carry out the trial on the approximately 260,000-square meter premises of a plant in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, that its subsidiary Toyota Motor East Japan Inc. will close by the end of 2020, they said.

In the envisioned urban development on the lot, the auto giant, which also has a housing arm, is weighing collaboration with information technology companies to offer homes with electrical appliances that can be controlled through its internet-connected vehicle, they said.

Toyota said it has not made a final decision about how the plant premises will be used but that it is “considering ways to grow and develop with the local community through the implementation of our mobility business.”

Toyota has been stepping up efforts to develop autonomous cars that can offer various services such as ride-hailing and package delivery, as the auto industry faces a dramatic shift in demand from owning cars to sharing them.

It unveiled the e-Palette concept vehicle, a box-shaped, battery-powered vehicle with no driver’s seat, in January this year and plans to conduct testing for potential market feasibility in various regions, including the United States, in the early 2020s.

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