Toyota Promises to Have all U.S. Models Connected by 2020
Staying connected is extremely important (just ask your Twitter-addicted teenager). Toyota knows consumers compulsively scroll through Facebook and check their email. Which is why the company plans to have all its U.S.-market vehicles connected by 2020.
Connectivity for everyone
The announcement was made at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show by Zach Hicks, CEO and president of Toyota Connected. Toyota plans to have its entire lineup – including the lowly Yaris – fitted with both cellular and internet connectivity. The timeline for this rollout is about two years.
Toyota vehicles communicate with the outside world via a data communications module (DCM). All Lexus models already come with this hardware. But It's taken awhile for the technology to trickle down to Toyota's economy vehicles.
Hicks said, it "may take until 2020" for all Toyota-brand models to have connectivity hardware, but the company is "committed to having all Toyota's connected.
After all, everyone should have the option of checking Instagram in the car, not just well-to-do Lexus owners.
Toyota is not being as liberal with over-the-air software (OTA) updates. The company's future vehicles will be connected, but they may still have to go to the dealership to get reprogrammed.
Cyber security threats are the reason for this decision. OTA updates introduce a new channel for such attacks and Toyota isn't taking chances. The company does recognize the efficiency of such updates and may offer them further down the road. But first, it would need to beef-up its cyber defenses.
Alexa gets onboard with Toyota
Amazon's cloud-base voice service, Alexa, has been in homes for some time. Toyota now plans to bring the robo-servant to Lexus and Toyota vehicles. Alexa will initially be offered on models equipped with the latest Entune and Enform infotainment systems. By 2019, the service will be offered on even more models.
"Voice services are rapidly becoming more popular and through our integration with Amazon Alexa, Toyota and Lexus customers will soon be able to easily speak to Alexa in their cars while on-the-go," said Hicks.
Apparently, Toyota thinks consumers are hot to trot for an electronic, "back seat" driver. Or maybe that's just the price we pay to live in a connected world.
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