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Toyota SA launches in-vehicle WiFi connected services

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 29 Aug 2019

Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) has collaborated with Altron and Vodacom to introduce Toyota Connect, a cloud-based Internet-connected intelligence platform aimed at providing in-mobility WiFi connected services.

The partnership, announced today in Johannesburg, will see all future Toyota vehicles enabled with WiFi and telematics solution capabilities.

Toyota Connect is housed within the MyToyota App which was launched in 2014. The technology provides Toyota owners with access to a myriad of Internet-connected services, including music and video streaming, battery health check, vehicle service bookings, fleet management alerts and driver rating capabilities.

Speaking at the launch held in Johannesburg today, president and CEO of TSAM, Andrew Kirby, explained that as of 1 September 2019, all new Toyota and Lexus models sold in SA will come standard with in-car WiFi, including 15GB free data, provided through the Vodacom network.

“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 and telecoms giant 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 designed and developed the Internet of things (IOT) technology platform with Toyota, which enables drivers to track their driving habits, always know their vehicle location and allows logistics companies to manage their fleet.

Speaking at the event, minister of communications and digital technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, explained that the automobile sector plays an important role, not only in job creation but also in being an active participant in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

“It's a great pleasure to stand here today and say Toyota has not only been servicing our people and transporting them to different areas, but it has also managed to make sure that the challenges we face in terms of unemployment, as a country are addressed through skills that have been provided,” she explained.

“These skills have now also been extended to digital skills, where innovators must make sure that cars are connected with the latest technologies, creating a great opportunity for the automotive sector to create additional services and thus additional jobs.”

One of the crucial tasks that president Cyril Ramaphosa has assigned to the ministry of communication and digital technologies, she explained, is the responsibility to lead the 4IR.

“As a self-proclaimed commander of the 4IR, it gives me pleasure to extend my family to the automobile sector, which is also represented in the 4IR commission. Through the commission, we want to make sure that we do what it takes to create opportunities for advancement in the automotive sector and find ways to prepare the sector for 4IR. So we are not only about the Internet of things but we are definitely also about the Internet of human beings.”

Minister of communications and digital technologies, Stella Ndabeni Abrahams.
Minister of communications and digital technologies, Stella Ndabeni Abrahams.

The benefits of Toyota Connect can be grouped into three main areas: Connectivity features, Convenience and Safety features, which are all accessed via the Vodacom sim card.

Also speaking at the event, William Mzimba, chief officer at Vodacom Business explained: “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 SA, 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’re 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.”