Driving Impressions and Tech Talk

Take 2 Toyota PM and call me in the morning
to make world debut in Detroit
 December 17, 2003

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Toyota PM

Have you seen the PM (Personal Mobility) that Toyota was exhibiting at the Tokyo Motor Show? OK, so it does seem a little futuristic, but donít discount the viability of such a transportation device. This little insect looking transporter could very well be everything the Segway is not.

While the Segway Human Transporter (www.segway.com) can be ridden by almost anyone, thanks to its gyro controls, there are limitations to when and where you can use it. We have found people to be skeptical when it comes to using a Segway on crowded sidewalks, in poor weather conditions, or for walking distances normally traversed by healthy human beings. Donít most Americans already suffer from a lack of exercise? While the Segway is a marvel of modern engineering prowess we may not see widespread use of them in our neighborhoods for these obvious reasons. The PM on the other hand could possibly be the answer to the demands on transportation as it relates to urban sprawl. Make a quick observation on your way to work or school, check to see how many vehicles are occupied by more than one human.

Before I go any further I would like to go on record as owning at least one SUV in the family at all times. In addition, I have been guilty of owning some of the most gas guzzling performance automobiles to be produced on this earth. Having said that I would like to mention that possibly, quite probably, we could have more fun driving a PM around town then we would with that Hummer, or other gas guzzling behemoth. OK, I know, send him to the gallows right?

Toyota PM

The Toyota PM addresses many of our needs, both from a transportation standpoint, and also from an entertainment one. My nephew recently reminded me that all humans have one thing in common, that we all like to be entertained. In fact, we tend to throw logic out the window when it comes to spending our hard earned dollars on things relating to our entertainment. We justify it, claim itís necessary for our good mental health. Given this to be true, take another look at the Toyota PM. Could you imagine the view from the surround windshield (canopy)? Forget about smacking your face on it when you slam on the brakes, just follow along here for a minute. Would you like to sip your coffee and talk on your cell phone on your way to work? How about checking the stock report or shaving? All of this is possible since your PM could be guided by others with the same destination. Want to drive? No problem, you can do that too.

These are not the Buck Rogers years, technology is moving fast, the PM is not the future it is the now. While Toyota may need to work a few bugs out of the PM there is no reason a similar vehicle could not be mass produced in the foreseeable future. Consider the environmental impact, consider the gridlock in our major metropolitan areas, consider that it just might be fun to drive a PM to work. Maybe it wouldnít be your only vehicle, maybe it would be your work car. Maybe it would have its own little garage, maybe it could network with other PMís. Maybe there are lots of possibilities too numerous to mention. Just think about it.

A closer look at the PM reveals some interesting technology, things like a motorized pod that lowers for improved aerodynamics at higher speeds, and raises for ease of parking in small spaces. When the pod is raised it becomes obvious that a clear view can be had to facilitate maneuvering in tight spots. In addition, you will notice the wheelbase of the vehicle changes with inclination of the pod, providing for a lengthened wheelbase to facilitate improved handling at speed and a shortened one for maneuvering and parking. Toyota didnít skip the details either, since the headlights also adjust with the pod to maintain correct direction of illumination.

Toyota PM

Information is displayed on the canopy in front of the driver in a heads-up display fashion. Even the body panels on the vehicle's are capable of changing color to indicate communication with other pods. There are some wild concepts that start to emerge as this technology begins to assume its rightful place with consumers. You think the automatic car starter you have is state of the art? Push a remote button for the pod and the headlights illuminate green, the pod opens, the seat lowers and extends, and you simply climb aboard and reverse the process. Toyota has pushed the envelope with vehicle dynamics, providing for a design that is feasible for use by the general public. Not that the PM would necessarily appeal to folks in remote/open areas, but it seems to make sense for those of us that spend much time in and around urban areas.

Want the ultimate attention getter? Canít afford a new Enzo? It would be difficult to imagine another motorized vehicle that would garner the attention the PM would muster when wheeled into view. And as for safety, it sure canít be less safe than a motorcycle, and we ride those on most roads throughout the world. There are lots of reasons to build the PM, and not too many reasons not to. We just need for two things to happen in the near future, for Toyota to build the PM, and for Toyota to come up with a name that would be more appropriate than PM. With all the opportunities to create a name that would better portray the vehicle's use of technology what kind of a name is PM? You develop a vehicle like this and call it PM? What will the upscale model be called, the PMS?

Iím confident some of our readers could construct a name that would better befit this intriguing concept. Possibly Toyota will even develop a twin passenger model, providing for two peas in a pod. Well folks, any ideas for a model name of this new Toyota?   

Comments can be sent to the author at feedback@autoracing1.com.




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