Toyota and Microsoft have joined forces to develop an ambitious next-generation telematics system that will rival and Ford's My Ford Synch services that will allow customers to use their smart phones to interact with a car's onboard electronic systems.
Toyota and Microsoft are investing about $12 million in Toyota Media Service Co., a Toyota Motor Corp. subsidiary that offers digital information services to Toyota's automotive customers. The two companies aim to help develop and deploy telematics applications on the cloud-based Windows Azure platform, starting with Toyota's electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. The goal is to establish a complete global cloud platform by 2015 that will provide affordable and advanced telematics services to Toyota automotive customers around the world.
Toyota also says that as part of its smart-grid activities, aimed at achieving a low-carbon society through efficient energy use, it is conducting trials in Japan of its Toyota Smart Center pilot program, which plans to link people, automobiles and homes for integrated control of energy consumption. Toyota believes that as electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles become more popular, such systems will increasingly rely on telematics services for achieving efficient energy management.
In the past Lexus used OnStar services for its owners and more recently Toyota switched to using ATX Group for selected models.
I wonder if we will see more auto companies hook up with other high tech leaders, like Apple and Google, to co-develop these advanced communications systems that can be used for applications such as navigation, remote control of charging, remote unlocking and managing of a car's infotainment systems.