Toyota Motor will establish a Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to collaborate with various car sharing providers starting with a pilot program with Getaround in San Francisco. It will also develop telematics insurance.
“Based on the proliferation and popularity of mobility services, such as 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,” the company said yesterday in Tokyo.
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 these functions. Going forward when Toyota partners with mobility service providers, the provider can select and use functions in the MSPF to offer more services to users.
This is just the latest auto industry move – it’s now a stampede – into what services and products makers think will be needed to survive as a “connected car company,” in industry jargon. Shigeki Tomoyama, President of Toyota’s in-house Connected Company said, “we would like to help create a new mobility society to offer safer and more convenient mobility to our customers.”
To enhance a MSPF-based car-sharing, Toyota developed the Smart Key Box (SKB) that can be placed in a vehicle without modification. Car sharing users can lock and unlock doors, and start the engine with their smartphone. Toyota claims that this provides a safer and more secure way of lending and renting cars.
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).
A new 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, like regular smart key use. The time and period when the user can access the SKB is set and managed by the Toyota Smart Center, based on the vehicle reservation.
Using the MSPF and SKB, Toyota will conduct a pilot program with U.S. car-sharing company Getaround. The pilot program will start in January 2017 in San Francisco, Calif. To support this collaboration, the Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, a fund in which Toyota participates, provided strategic investment to Getaround last month. During the pilot program, Toyota and Getaround will explore the benefits of the SKB in car sharing.
Toyota Financial Services will develop a new financial product where the lessee can 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 Mobility Services Platform for other mobility services in Japan, such as unmanned rent-a-car businesses.
Toyota Connected Inc., Toyota’s U.S.-based global company focusing on connectivity, will develop and operate the MSPF.
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