There's something social in the road ahead.
Toyota Friend will roll out in Japan next year for new buyers of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, providing "a variety of product and service information as well as essential maintenance tips, creating a rich car ownership experience," according to this morning's press release.
An example noted in the press release would send mobile alerts to drivers when their car batteries are running low. This may not seem all that revolutionary, but the viral special sauce here is that drivers can also elect to have these kinds of communiques sent out to friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter.
I can't imagine why folks would want to let their Twitter fans know that their cars are due for oil changes, though Toyota obviously won't mind if "via Toyota Friend" begins popping up in Facebook news feeds for all to see.
This reminds me of when General Motors
Automakers have been beefing up their dashboard tech to drum up sales. Toyota raised the bar on telematics with the Entune multimedia system it introduced earlier this year. Entune gives Toyota drivers access to Microsoft's
Wasn't it just a few months ago that GM was dreaming of making OnStar available as an add-on for non-GM cars? It's going to be a hard sell if rival automakers use it as a loss leader to move models off the lot.
Microsoft, Toyota, and salesforce.com will all be investing in Toyota's cloud-based media platform.
Hopefully by the time Toyota Friend rolls out domestically it will do more than simply tell my mother that I have been negligent in checking my tire pressure or let ex-girlfriends know that they didn't miss out on much judging by the vanilla bean car I'm driving.
What would you like to see car technology do that it hasn't gotten around to offering just yet? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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