Latest buzz from the world of cars is all about the Fun vii, a concept car being rolled out by Toyota at the Tokyo Auto Show. By now you’ve heard that it promises to be a smartphone on wheels, among other things. Instead of a paintjob, its exterior will feature a touch screen that can change at a moment’s notice. It can wish you Happy Birthday. It can connect to the dealer and run diagnostics. It can be customized to suit the mood of the driver and – well the beat goes on. But for now it’s a concept and only a concept, no production date yet scheduled. It’s the Fun vii because the thinking at Toyota is that a car must be fun to attract people’s interest. This is of course a dramatic leap from the original purpose of the car, which was to transport people between those two famous points: A and B. So much for distracted drivers, this could be a distracted car.
Automakers have long wanted the automobile to fill more than one purpose in a human’s life. Back in the 1930s someone decided that a driver ought to be able to listen to a bit of music while driving, and so along came the car radio, which has evolved since then, but not too much. Along came cupholders, navigation devices, phones and CD players – in no particular order. Lately the idea of connectivity hit car makers in a big way. Now a car isn’t only a mode of transportation that entertains you, and keeps you comfortable and hydrated while driving, it can do so much more. Over at Ford they demonstrated how an Explorer could deliver information about blood glucose levels to diabetics. The same vehicle could also point the driver to the nearest sugar source if needed. Meanwhile, it is said that American drivers spend 47 hours per year in their cars.