Pizza Hut has been a driving force in redefining the pizza delivery category. Now, the company’s future delivery plans involve autonomous vehicles.

This week, Toyota, the world's top automaker, and Pizza Hut, which serves and delivers more pizzas than any other pizza restaurant in the world, announced a global partnership to explore the future of pizza delivery and other initiatives to improve mobility around the world. 

What’s more, Toyota unveiled designs of a self-driving concept vehicle called e-Palette at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and Pizza Hut is one of the founding members of a new “mobility service business alliance” that also includes Amazon, Didi, Mazda, and Uber.

Pizza Hut has been tireless when it comes to providing the best delivery experience, including a new delivery algorithm that drastically improves the accuracy and reliability of deliveries, new delivery pouches able to keep pizzas up to 15 degrees hotter, and a pilot test of beer and wine delivery in the U.S.

Loyalty360 talked to Doug Terfehr, Senior Director Partnerships and Public Relations, Pizza Hut, to learn more about the company’s ambitious delivery plans.

What factors prompted the partnership with Toyota to research pizza delivery via autonomous vehicles?

Terfehr: Pizza Hut is constantly looking for ways to own and define the modern pizza experience. Toyota is an exceptional fit as a technology partner, given their global position, as we work to accelerate our commitment to the best delivery experience. 

In your opinion, how could this type of delivery system impact Pizza Hut and the industry in the future from a customer experience perspective?

Terfehr: For Pizza Hut, the e-Palette solution could support the company’s delivery business in the future or, given the flexibility of the e-Palette design, could even serve as a mobile kitchen in areas of the world where such an experience would match consumer interests.

What sort of customer feedback have you received regarding delivery in recent years?

Terfehr: Pizza Hut has been innovating to redefine pizza delivery for the category through changes to the entire delivery ecosystem, from the box, to the pouch, to delivery dispatch at the restaurant. We hired more drivers and invested in technology, such as our delivery network algorithm launched last year, to improve our efficiency and accuracy. We also recently re-engineered all of our delivery pouches to keep pizzas up to 15 degrees hotter.

If this type of delivery system were to become a reality at Pizza Hut, what is your estimated timetable?

Terfehr: Toyota plans to implement testing of the vehicle concept in several regions, including the United States, in 2020. We’re currently focused on topline applications for Toyota’s e-Palette vehicle concept, in terms of pizza delivery and potentially mobile kitchens.

At Pizza Hut, what are you most proud of? 

Terfehr: We’re proud of many of the initiatives we accomplished this past year that make it easier for our customers to get a better pizza. We rolled out a brand-new Oven Hot Delivery System that keeps our pizzas up to 15 degrees hotter, a new rewards program that rewards customers for every dollar spent, a slew of easy order and delivery functions, like Alexa Voice Service ordering, as well as future innovations like new applications of Toyota’s self-driving concept vehicle. We’re excited to continue the journey toward defining the modern pizza experience.

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