The internet is buzzing with news from Toyota, even though it isn’t exactly as it seems. Yes, the automaker is working on hitchless towing using the 2023 Toyota Sienna minivan, but not with Wi-Fi. What exactly is Toyota hitchless towing, and how does this technology work on cars, trucks, and SUVs?
Toyota hitchless towing is a real concept from Toyota Motor North America
Toyota Motor North America is working on some pretty cool projects behind the scenes, including towing without a hitch. The automaker says hitch ball attachments, safety chain connections, and vehicle weight calculations might soon be outdated. Toyota hitchless towing is described by Toyota’s senior manager of Toyota Motor North America Research & Design, Paul Fanson, as follow the leader.
“It basically allows two vehicles to play follow the leader. So the lead vehicle would be driven by a human. The follow vehicle would naturally follow behind as a trailer would, but there would be no physical connection.”Paul Fanson | Toyota Motor North America Research & Design
Fanson explains that the rear vehicle will act similarly to an autonomous vehicle. The first car would drive as normal with a person behind the wheel, and the second vehicle would follow naturally behind as if it were attached by a trailer.
Toyota hitchless towing won’t use Wi-Fi, but it certainly is real
Toyota says it has been working on this project specifically for North American customers. Akio Toyoda aims for the company to become a mobility company more so than just a vehicle manufacturer. He wanted to find better ways to move “people, goods, or even information,” which hitchless towing seems to be a step in that direction.
However, the Wi-Fi part of the rumor is where the issue lies. The cars would be connected wirelessly simply because each vehicle is independent of one other. Toyota has not confirmed how the hitchless towing works, but many sensors and cameras are the likely source.
The Toyota Sienna is already one of the best minivans on the market, but towing without a hitch would really catapult this vehicle to the next level. However, Toyota trucks and SUVs might be the real winner in a hitchless towing scenario.
Toyota calls this “a new era of untethered mobility” and uses the Sienna minivan for testing
The automaker is currently testing this technology and remains in its initial phases. Toyota seems pleased with the progress and says testing on the highway and in urban settings will follow. The 2023 Toyota Sienna minivan is new this year and has been the subject of many of these tests.
Toyota has focused on mobility for its customers, and the Sienna is more versatile than ever. Buyers can order a Sienna with a wheelchair conversion that allows drive or ride comfortably in their wheelchair. Plus, the 2022 Sienna even received an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick Plus award.
If Toyota hitchless towing sounds like an idea you can get behind, keep your eyes on Toyota’s social media accounts. The team is currently doing more testing on this potential feature.