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Toyota launches connected car platform and partners with Getaround to compete with Uber

Toyota follows up its Microsoft deal with partnership with Getaround in bid to challenge Uber

Toyota says it will launch a Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to collaborate with various service providers, as well as telematics insurance.

Based on the proliferation and popularity of mobility services, like car-sharing, the MSPF will have various functions to support mobility services, and leverage the Toyota Smart Center (TSC), the Toyota Big Data Center, and financial services.

Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota Connected, says: “As a mobility service platform provider, by collaborating with various companies and services, we would like to help create a new mobility society in order to offer safer and more convenient mobility to our customers.” 

Toyota’s illustration of its Mobility Services Platform

Recently, Toyota developed individual business functions, such as vehicle management systems and leasing programs, and offered them to mobility service providers. The MSPF will aggregate and comprehend these functions.

Going forward, when Toyota partners with mobility service providers, the provider can select and use functions in the MSPF to offer more convenient and refined services to users.

To enhance a MSPF-based car-sharing, Toyota developed the Smart Key Box (SKB), which can be placed in a vehicle without modification.

Car-sharing users can lock and unlock doors, and start the engine with their smartphone. Thus providing a safer and more secure way of lending and renting cars.

A smartphone application will receive codes to access the SKB device, which the assigned vehicle owner has placed in the vehicle.

When the smartphone is brought near the vehicle, the codes are authenticated with the SKB through Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communications, and the user can operate the key with the smartphone, similar to regular smart key operation.

The time and period when the user can access the SKB is set and managed by the TSC, based on the vehicle reservation.

In traditional car-sharing services, users have shared keys―physically, via a vehicles console box, or a dedicated communication device would be connected with the Controller Area Network (CAN). These traditional methods present room for improvement.

The Toyota Smart Key Box, a ready-to-use small device which enables smartphones to lock and unlock doors, and start the engine

Using the MSPF and SKB, Toyota will conduct a pilot program with US car-sharing company – Getaround. The pilot program will start in January 2017 in San Francisco, California.

To support this collaboration, the Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, a fund in which Toyota participates, provided strategic investment to Getaround in October. During the pilot program, Toyota and Getaround will explore the benefits and convenience of the SKB in car sharing.

Toyota Financial Services Corporation will develop a new financial product where the lessee is able to use the income generated from car-sharing to pay for leasing charges.

The aim is to increase the number of vehicles for sharing in a more convenient manner, and to attract new users to such mobility services. Based on the exploration results, Toyota will consider using the MSPF for other mobility services in Japan, like unmanned rent-a-car businesses.

Toyota Connected, Toyota’s US-based global company focusing on connectivity, will develop and operate the MSPF.

Sam Zaid, Getaround’s founder and CEO, says: “Our goal at Getaround has always been to empower people to car-share everywhere.

“Integrating our experience and purpose-built car-sharing technology with Toyota’s activities across mobility services opens up new opportunities to Toyota customers and the rapidly growing car-sharing market.”