Toyota Expands Connected Services Subsidiary Into Europe

Driven by artificial intelligence, automated and assisted driving and connected vehicles, mobility in the 21st century is a decidedly more complicated market.

With that in mind, Toyota has been busy building out its mobility portfolio, most recently with the launch of Toyota Connected Europe (TCEU), a spinoff company based in London.

Designed to support the adoption of mobility businesses in Europe, TCEU is launching with an initial investment of around $6.2 million, and the new venture is slated to employ between 35 and 50 people.

Founded in 2016, Toyota Connected (TC) is the data science hub for the company’s global operations and supports a range of initiatives aimed at consumers, businesses and governments.

It was created to significantly expand Toyota’s capabilities in the fields of vehicle data science, machine learning and contextual data services development throughout its global operations.

The subsidiary’s Mobility Services Platform (MSPF), a cloud-based digital ecosystem, will enable mobility services like remote delivery as well as ride sharing and car sharing.

In addition, TCEU will leverage and extend the MSPF and manage the European operations of the Toyota Big Data Center (TBDC).

Toyota’s connected vehicle framework, anchored by the installation of a data communication module (DCM) into a broad range of its vehicles, will use the TBDC to process the huge volumes of data its connected vehicles generate.

The news follows an announcement earlier this month by rivals Daimler — maker of Mercedes luxury cars — and BMW that will see the two companies teaming up on sustainable urban mobility options such as car-sharing and electric vehicle charging.

“Having a spinoff company that can operate at the speed of Silicon Valley, but still allow Toyota to participate in this new ecosystem, that’s really the goal,” Toyota Connected North America CEO Zack Hicks said in an interview with Bloomberg prior to this week’s announcement.

The TCEU initiative builds on Toyota’s existing partnership with Microsoft — TC uses the Azure cloud computing platform — to accelerate their research and development efforts.

Hicks will serve as chairman of the new company, while Toyota Motor Europe’s vice president of connected cars and mobility, Agustin Martin, will be the its CEO.

In March, Avis Budget Group, one of the world’s largest car-rental companies, announced a partnership that will see it buy at least 10,000 connected cars from Toyota. The move was part of Avis’s plan to make its whole global fleet of more than 500,000 vehicles connected by 2020.

The connected Toyotas that are bound for Avis beginning late this year — as 2019 models — will allow the rental agency to read the odometer and the fuel level over the air as customers return the vehicles, and these cars will also let customer-service representatives diagnose some problems remotely if a customer calls in from the road with car trouble.

Back on the other side of the world, a partnership between Toyota, JapanTaxi, Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI and global consulting firm Accenture have begun trials on a taxi dispatch support system using location-based big data gathered from smartphones.

Toyota’s role is to collect data affecting taxi demand, process and analyze that data on the company’s MSPF and then provide JapanTaxi with its prediction data.

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