By Jamie Davies
Japanese car brand Toyota has teamed up with Microsoft to launch Toyota Connected, a new joint venture to further the car manufacturer’s efforts towards autonomous vehicles.
Toyota Connected builds on a standing relationship with Microsoft to leverage Azure cloud technology to make the connected driving experience smarter. Based in Plano, Texas, Toyota Connected will expand the company’s capabilities in the fields of data management and data services development initiatives.
“Toyota Connected will help free our customers from the tyranny of technology. It will make lives easier and help us to return to our humanity,” said Zack Hicks, CEO of Toyota Connected. “From telematics services that learn from your habits and preferences, to use-based insurance pricing models that respond to actual driving patterns, to connected vehicle networks that can share road condition and traffic information, our goal is to deliver services that make lives easier.”
The connected cars market has been growing healthily in recent years, but is not new to Microsoft or Toyota as the two companies have been collaborating in the area of telematics since 2011, working on services such as infotainment and real-time traffic updates. A 2015 report stated that connected car services will account for nearly $40 Billion in annual revenue by 2020, while big data and analytics technology investments will reach $5 billion across the industry in the same period.
The new company itself has been given two mandates; firstly to support product development for customers, dealers, distributors, and partners, through advanced data analytics solutions, and secondly to build on Toyota’s existing partnership with Microsoft to accelerate R&D efforts and deliver new connected car solutions. The company have stated that its vision is to “humanize the driving experience while pushing the technology into the background”.
The launch of Toyota Connected will able enable the organization to consolidate R&D programs into one business unit, which it claims will ensure that all initiatives remain customer centric. Initiatives will focus around a number of areas including in-car services and telematics, home/IoT connectivity, personalization and smart city integration.
As part of the launch, Toyota will also adopt Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform, employing a hybrid solution globally, whilst also housing a number of Microsoft engineers in its offices in Plano.
“Toyota is taking a bold step creating a company dedicated to bringing cloud intelligence into the driving experience,” said Kurt Del Bene, EVP, Corporate Strategy and Planning at Microsoft. “We look forward to working with Toyota Connected to harness the power of data to make driving more personal, intuitive and safe.”