Following the example of several other major auto makers, Toyota is establishing car-sharing and other mobility services as it moves from being purely a manufacturer into the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) marketplace.
Toyota will establish a Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to collaborate with various service providers, as well as telematics insurance. Based on the proliferation and popularity of mobility services, like car-sharing, the MSPF will have various functions to support mobility services, and make use of the Toyota Smart Center (TSC), the Toyota Big Data Center, and financial services.
Recently, Toyota has developed individual business functions, such as vehicle management systems and leasing programs, and offered them to mobility service providers. The MSPF will aggregate and comprehend these functions. Going forward, when Toyota partners with mobility service providers, the provider can select and use functions in the MSPF to offer more convenient and refined services to users.
To enhance MSPF-based car-sharing, Toyota has 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, providing a safer and more secure way of lending and renting cars. A 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, similar to regular smart key operation. The time and period when the user can access the SKB is set and managed by the TSC, based on the vehicle reservation.
In traditional car-sharing services, users have physically-shared keys, via a vehicles console box, or a dedicated communication device that would be connected with the Controller Area Network (CAN). These traditional methods present room for improvement. Using the MSPF and SKB, Toyota will conduct a pilot program with USA car-sharing company Getaround. The pilot program will start in January 2017 in San Francisco, California. To support this collaboration, the Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, a fund in which Toyota participates, provided strategic investment to Getaround in October. During the pilot program, Toyota and Getaround will explore the benefits and convenience of the SKB in car sharing. Toyota Financial Services will develop a new product where the lessee is able to use the income generated from car-sharing to pay for leasing charges.
“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.”
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.”