Car

ITS Connected: Toyota Crown Concept

In continuous production since 1955, the Toyota Crown is one of the auto industry’s longest-running nameplates. We haven’t thought much about it since 1971, the last time Toyota offered the car for sale in the United States, although the new Crown concept is a pleasant reminder of Japan’s penchant for fancy Toyota sedans.

The Crown concept is essentially the 15th-generation Crown, which will launch in Japan next summer. Unlike the 12-cylinder Toyota Century, the Crown has never shuttled the Japanese emperor or aspired to any level of royalty. It’s a high-end, generic-looking four-door that’s part Lexus GS and part previous-gen Camry. The most interesting thing about the Crown concept is that it includes a new vehicle-to-vehicle networking function called ITS Connect, which stands for Intelligent Transport Systems.

Toyota-Crown-Concept-Tokyo-side
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Toyota has been installing similar V2V and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology in certain Japanese models since 2015. The system uses a 760-MHz radio band to communicate with roadside sensors and with other equipped Toyota vehicles, not unlike the car-to-X system found on the current Mercedes-Benz E-class.

Toyota goes further, however, by linking adaptive cruise control to the preceding vehicle’s actual acceleration and braking. It can warn drivers of collisions during a turn across a lane of oncoming traffic and alert drivers to changing traffic signals and nearby emergency vehicles. Other than a few generic references to improving traffic flow and sharing vehicle diagnostics to predict maintenance problems, Toyota hasn’t outlined what functionality the next-gen Crown will offer, although it does mention “solving societal problems” [like hunger?]. Nevertheless, you can guess that Toyota is about to install a lot more computers and wireless sensors in its cars and that they’ll eventually make their way here.

Really, we’d just like a Lexus with an automatic rear-door opener and closer like in the Toyota Crown Comfort, Japan’s venerable—and delightfully analog—taxi.

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