Sharing is the future. We don’t want to own assets anymore, we just want to have access to them when needed. The earlier brands adapt to this behaviour, the better it is for them. Toyota has made a move in this direction and is now looking at helping people share cars. In order to do so, Toyota Motor Corporation will establish a Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to collaborate with various service providers. 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’s in-house Connected Company stated: “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”
The key highlight of this new development is the key, or rather the lack of it. Toyota has introduced a Smart Key Box that owners can install in their cars without any modification. Anyone sharing the car will be a sent a code through an app which will be authenticated via Bluetooth when they bring their phone close to the car. The access time and duration will be managed on the basis of booking time.
For sharing services, this eliminates the need of physically handling the keys or the controlled area network systems used by most rental companies. The idea of replacing car keys with phones isn’t exactly fresh and Volvo announced a similar feature on certain car models in the past to enable sharing through Sunfleet. However, the solution offered by Toyota can be retrofitted to existing vehicles enabling easy adoption and implementation.
The technology will be put to test in a limited pilot in San Francisco starting January 2017 in association with car sharing service Getaround. Last month the Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, a fund in which Toyota participates, provided strategic investment to Getaround.
“Our goal at Getaround has always been to empower people to car-share everywhere,” said Sam Zaid, Getaround’s Founder and CEO. “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.”
By easing the sharing process, Toyota will be able to get more people to share their vehicles while allowing them to recover some of their ownership costs. In markets like US where a large number of vehicles are leased, people will be more open to the idea of sharing their cars. Many other automobile companies are exploring the sharing space recognising the opportunities. Toyota is further planning to get more people to share their vehicles by creating a new financial product to enable people to pay off their car lease with car-sharing programs.