Toyota teams up with Salesforce for cloud-based social network

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Toyota cars are to get their own private social network, thanks to an alliance between the motor manufacturer, and Microsoft.

Each car will have its own profile on the Toyota Friend network and will be able to have simple two-way conversations with its owner, who will also be able to use the network to access service and product information such as maintenance tips, Toyota said. It said that Toyota Friend would be offered first in Japan, and initially just for its electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles (EVs and PHVs).

Toyota Friend is based on Salesforce Chatter, a collaboration tool intended for private and secure use within businesses, but which can also connect to public services such as Facebook and Twitter. Toyota Motor Company president Akio Toyoda said that it would extend Toyota’s existing telematics capabilities, for example enabling a car to send an alert when it is getting low on battery and needs charging.

“Social networking services are transforming human interaction and modes of communication,” he added. “The automobile needs to evolve in step with that transformation. The alliance that we announce today is an important step forward in achieving that goal.”

Users will also be able to access the service via smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Several EV manufacturers have already experimented with smartphone apps to track the charge status of electric vehicles.

A third investor in the Toyota Friend project is Microsoft, which last month announced a strategic partnership with the car maker to build a global platform for next generation telematics. The three companies said that they planned to develop further more cloud services via a joint venture company, Toyota Media Services.