Since August 2019, Toyota has provided in-car connectivity with new vehicles.
While in-car connectivity solutions are expected, and often charged for handsomely by the German brands, Toyota has included it at no extra cost on everything it sells today – from the entry-level Agya to the Lexus LC500.
Its marketing material will point out the Wi-Fi hotspot system, included entertainment services, and 15GB of free data – but it is far more than that.
Toyota Connect is a full vehicle telemetry system integrated into the vehicle’s electronics system, feeding critical data to an interface accessed via a smartphone app.
It is unparalleled in the market. BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz offer something in the same category – but for an additional fee.
Throwing around buzzwords that can confuse consumers, like IoT and telemetry, however, means that a feature like this can go overlooked.
And because it’s opt-in when buying a car, it is as easy to avoid for fear of what you’re signing up for – unless the salesman has done an outstanding job of explaining it.
Underneath the jargon is a handy system that makes buying a new Toyota incredibly attractive for business owners, parents, and those using their car for work.
And normal drivers, too, of course.
Toyota Connect, through the MyToyota App, will allow a driver or owner to create an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot (15GB free initially); check the health of the battery; call for and receive real-time roadside assistance with impact detection; and to manage the vehicle’s services and service bookings.
It also provides for always-on GPS location sharing, all in the app. Additionally, it acts as a digital logbook for fleet management and monitoring the driving habits of each driver.
These features alone should be able to sway many an uncertain buyer from one brand to Toyota.
In an age where the public is hesitant of WhatsApp’s new Terms of Service, however, how comfortable are you with giving your driving habits and data to the company that made your car?
Is it a sign of things to come, or another way for your behaviours to be tracked?
The answer is little bit of both, but not in a negative way.
Premium brands proudly market optional features like in-car connectivity, Wi-Fi hotspots, and the ability to check the vehicle’s vital statistics for an additional monthly or annual fee – making it a desired option.
Toyota Connect is a standard across the range for free and is a locally-developed system that was designed with Netstar and Vodacom.
This means once the 15GB of initial free data is depleted, it can be topped up via the app or Internet banking.
The telemetry features also stand out and having a GPS function built in means your mileage is tracked and associated with the vehicle – and makes verifying a second-hand purchase easier.
Vehicle speed and driving style are available in real-time, too, and the telematics rarely lie.
Live tracking makes it a cinch to keep tabs on the car’s whereabouts at any time as well.
And while under a plan with AA Roadside assistance, automated emergency help is dispatched if impact on the vehicle is detected.
In terms of business users, the tracking system should then make claiming against a car allowance simpler.
Like it or not, it’s a major step for any manufacturer to include a system like this in all their cars at no extra cost.
Toyota has proven it’s possible, so I expect to see it across more brands and models soon.