In an ever increasingly connected world where ‘Dick Tracy’ watches allow video chatting with friends while monitoring exercise and heartbeat, it comes as no surprise wi-fi is moving into the cars we drive and Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), in collaboration with partners Altron and Vodacom Business, takes that leap locally… and globally.
In-car Wi-Fi will be available on all new Toyota and Lexus models.
Known as Toyota Connect, the new connectivity hub will be housed within the MyToyota App which was launched in 2014. The technology allows Toyota owners access to a myriad of convenience, connectivity and safety benefits.
While TSAM is currently the only manufacturer in South Africa to offer a mobile App that is fully integrated with manufacturer and dealer systems, it also becomes the first organisation – the world over – to offer the convergence of Wi-Fi and connectivity features in one package across the model range.
“As of September 1, all new Toyota and Lexus models sold in South Africa will come standard with in-car Wi-Fi including 15GB free data (which you can top up) as well as a host of connectivity features and benefits courtesy of Toyota Connect, a major extension of the MyToyota App,” says President and CEO of TSAM, Andrew Kirby.
According to Kirby: “As Toyota transitions from being an automotive to a mobility-solutions organisation, it becomes imperative to collaborate with companies whose visions align with ours. The importance of telematics and telecommunications in tomorrow’s vehicles cannot be overstated – hence our partnership with global technology group Altron (through Netstar) and Vodacom in this project.
“Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of how connected technologies can enhance their lives and our task as a forward-thinking organisation is to evolve in tandem with market expectations.”
Through its subsidiary, Netstar, Altron jointly designed and developed the bespoke technology platform with Toyota, which enables Internet of Things (IoT) aspects such as telematics and fleet management.
Altron Group Chief Executive Mteto Nyati says: “This locally-developed technology enables connectivity and gives real-time data to both Toyota and its customers. It positions Altron and South Africa as relevant players in the internet of things globally. We are truly excited about this collaboration.”
“Once a customer has opted in, the data aggregated from the telematics module will provide insights to Toyota, their dealer network, customers, fleet owners and third-party service providers such as the Automobile Association (AA), providing accident and breakdown assistance,” says Nyati.
William Mzimba, Chief Officer at Vodacom Business says: “This partnership is a key part of Vodacom’s IoT strategy, and is a step closer to realising our ambition to create opportunities for innovation in South Africa as well as the broader continent, bolstered by growth in IoT. Just like smartphones, cars today will need to be connected to provide a dynamic user experience.
“We are witnessing an increasing number of car buyers ranking in-car technology as important as vehicle performance. They want their cars to be safe, efficient, better equipped and fun. By connecting people to platforms that will manage the complexity of streaming music from the cloud, real-time traffic information and personalised roadside assistance, we can meet these growing demands.”
The benefits of Toyota Connect can be grouped into three main areas: Connectivity features, Convenience and Safety features.
• From a Connected point of view, the big news is that every new Toyota and Lexus will come standard with in-car Wi-Fi – including 15GB free data (SA only) as a once-off upon activation. Thereafter, customers can top up using Toyota Connect or their banking Apps.
• When it comes to Convenience, Service Booking reminds customers when their vehicles are due for servicing, factoring in all the back-end elements when you book directly on the App. The Logbook facility automatically saves a digital log of your vehicle’s mileage and service history for tax-submission purposes, including auto-allocation for work and home, as well as business and personal trips. The GPS locator gives you peace of mind, enabling you to find your vehicle easily and get a view of your trips.
• Under Safety, there is Roadside Assistance with impact detection – meaning that customers will have real-time support with AA-access for 24/7. The Battery Health Check reflects the real-time status of the customer vehicle’s battery health. The Driver Score feature encourages safer driving: customers can review their driver rating and keep track of their scores and overall driver behaviour.
“This is just the start of an exciting journey. We are thrilled about the imminent addition of benefits such as licence renewal, which will allow Toyota Connect users the ability to renew their vehicle licence disc via the technology and have it delivered to their address of choice. Toyota Connect partners are also working on expanding benefits for fleet and small business owners as well as car rental support. We will share details about these exciting developments in the near future,” concludes Kirby.