Microsoft And Toyota Partner To Produce Next Generation Telematics

Microsoft Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) have announced their partnership and plan to build a global platform for TMC’s next-generation telematics services based on the Windows Azure platform. So what is telematics? Telematics is the fusion of telecommunications and information technologies in vehicles. As we may be familiar, it can encompass GPS systems, energy management, and other multi-media technologies.

Both companies have pledged a total of 1 billion yen (approximately $12 million) in investment in TMC’s subsidiary, Toyota Media Service Co., which offers digital information services to Toyota automotive consumers. The goal is to develop and deploy telematics applications firstly for TMC’s electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. TMC hopes to establish a complete global cloud-based system by 2015 that will provide affordable and advanced telematics services for Toyota automotive customers around the world.

The new technology will be tested as part of the Toyota Smart Center program that is currently running in Japan. The program links people to their cars and homes with the goal for more integrated control of energy consumption. Toyota strongly believes that such smart-grid systems can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 75 percent. As electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles become more popular, such systems will rely more on telematics services for achieving efficient energy management.

Microsoft has had a long history of delivering platforms and services to the automotive market. This deal moves the software giant further into the automotive business having previously delivered such systems as in-car infotainment systems built on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform, in-car mapping services with Bing and the Microsoft Tellme voice application, and many other consumer solutions.

“Today’s announcement of our partnership with TMC is a great example of how we continue to invest in the automotive industry and of our commitment to power the services that are important to consumers,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “It further validates the power of the cloud, as the Windows Azure platform will provide the enterprise-grade, scalable platform that TMC needs to deliver telematics in its automobiles worldwide.”

“This new partnership between Microsoft and Toyota is an important step in developing
greater future mobility and energy management for consumers around the world. Creating these more efficient, more environmentally advanced products will be our contribution to society,” said Akio Toyoda, president of TMC. “To achieve this, it is important to develop a new link between vehicles, people and smart center energy-management systems.”

Loyalty Rings True As Toyota Wins Reader’s Digest 2011 Most Trusted Brand Award

Toyota ended 2009 at the top of its game, gaining the number one position amongst its competitors as the number one selling passenger car brand in Canada. Little did the company realize what was around the bend for 2010. Wrought for the first time in history with large scale recalls that called into question the safety and quality that were synonymous with the brand, Toyota battled to regain customer confidence.

A year later, after the company’s name was cleared of any fault for the many accidents and deaths that victims claimed to be caused by mechanical or electronic failure, the loyalty that many have for Toyota still rings true. For the third consecutive year, Canadians have voted and selected Toyota as one of the 2011 Most Trusted Brands. Toyota received awards for Most Trusted Passenger Car Brand as well as the Most Trusted Hybrid Brand.

“We’re honoured that Canadian readers have once again placed their trust in Toyota and have recognized us with these awards,” said Stephen Beatty, managing director at Toyota Canada Inc. “We remain committed to providing Canadians with a vehicle that delivers the quality, safety, sustainability and retained value they demand – and we value the endorsement that important awards like this represent.”

Reader’s Digest, Canada’s most read and trusted magazine, commissioned Harris-Decima to conduct an independent survey asking Canadians questions about trust. Among the questions, Canadians were asked what their most trusted brands were. “As Canada’s most trusted magazine, we know the bond of trust we have built with our readers over the years is the cornerstone of our relationship,” said Reader’s Digest publisher Larry Thomas. “We wanted to give Canadian consumers a voice to share the brands and companies they trust most.”

Within 18 product categories ranging from airlines to SUV manufacturers, respondents were asked to name the brand they trust most (no pre-coded brand list was provided to avoid any inherent bias.) “The results are fascinating; demonstrating which brands have earned the highest trust of the Canadian consumer. Reader’s Digest will conduct this poll annually to help consumers identify the most current trusted brands,” concludes Thomas.

The Reader’s Digest awards are the latest in a series of accolades that help explain why Toyota is the #1 selling passenger car brand in Canada. Canadians will learn more about these accolades through a new marketing campaign called “#1 For A Reason.” With online, TV, radio, and print components, the campaign will highlight what many know to be the values that Toyota vehicles bring to consumers: fuel-efficiency, value, and trust.

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