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Toyota, Salesforce.com Toyota Friend Program Keep Owners Informed

By Automotive Staff | May 24, 2011
It’s interesting how the automakers are promoting their electric vehicles. Case in point: Toyota. The automaker has joined forces with Salesforce.com Inc to create “Toyota Friend” a private social network initially for Japanese customers who purchase Toyota electric cars and plug-in hybrids. The social network is expected to be available later in other regions and for owners of all Toyota vehicles. Toyota plans to invest $5.4 million and Salseforce.com will invest $2.7 million on Toyota subsidiary Toyota Media Service *** the companies announced at a Tokyo press conference today. Toyota Media Service Co. provides data services to drivers and will use Toyota Friend to connect customers to their cars, dealerships and Toyota. In order to attract buyers to its electric vehicles automakers are adding more entertainment and power-saving features. Last month Toyota and Microsoft announced the development of in-car infotainment systems as well as electronic systems to help electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles run more efficiently. Toyota Friend will offer features such as a notification service, available to smartphones and tablet computers, when vehicles are running low on battery power. Other features include allowing customers to extend their networks through Twitter and Facebook to communicate with family and friends. “Toyota and Salesforce.com share a vision to take the auto industry into the future,” said Marc Benioff, CEO of Salseforce.com. “Social and mobile technologies will transform the car ownership experience, and we are excited to be Toyota’s partner in this transformation.” “Social networking services are transforming human interaction and modes of communication,” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Company. “The automobile needs to evolve in step with that transformation. I am always calling for Toyota to make ever-better cars. The alliance that we announce today is an important step forward in achieving that goal.” Full press release can be found below. Both companies believe Toyota Friend is only the first of many future joint business opportunities. TOKYO, May 23, 2011—Salesforce.com [NYSE: CRM] and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) [NYSE: TM] announced today that they have formed a strategic alliance to build “Toyota Friend”, a private social network for Toyota customers and their cars. Toyota Friend will be powered by Salesforce Chatter, a private social network used by businesses, and will be offered, first in Japan, initially with Toyota’s electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHV) due in 2012. Toyota Friend will be a private social network that connects Toyota customers with their cars, their dealership, and with Toyota. Toyota Friend will provide a variety of product and service information as well as essential maintenance tips, creating a rich car ownership experience. For example, if an EV or PHV is running low on battery power, Toyota Friend would notify the driver to re-charge in the form of a “tweet”-like alert. In addition, while Toyota Friend will be a private social network, customers can choose to extend their communication to family, friends, and others through public social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The service will also be accessible through smart phones, tablet PCs, and other advanced mobile devices. Regarding the alliance, salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said: “Toyota and salesforce.com share a vision to take the auto industry into the future. Social and mobile technologies will transform the car ownership experience, and we are excited to be Toyota’s partner in this transformation.” TMC President Akio Toyoda said: “Social networking services are transforming human interaction and modes of communication. The automobile needs to evolve in step with that transformation. I am always calling for Toyota to make ever-better cars. The alliance that we announce today is an important step forward in achieving that goal.” Salesforce.com is a fast-growing enterprise cloud computing company that has been in operation for more than 12 years. The company has nearly 100,000 customers worldwide, including large enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses, and government organizations. The company’s social, open, and mobile technologies represent the next generation of enterprise cloud computing. To date, TMC has developed its own telematics services to connect people, cars and their surroundings. Through Toyota Friend, TMC aims to offer its telematics services worldwide. Moving forward, TMC plans to advance toward the realization of future mobility by teaming up proactively with global IT companies. Although TMC and salesforce.com will launch their partnership with the building of Toyota Friend, in the future the companies plan to develop cloud services for TMC’s open platform and create new business opportunities leveraging their respective strengths. Salesforce.com and TMC will each make investments in Toyota Media Service Co. (TMS), which oversees TMC’s global cloud platform development. Salesforce.com will invest 223 million yen and TMC will invest 442 million yen. Microsoft Corporation, which on April 6 announced a strategic partnership with TMC to build a global platform for next-generation telematics services, will invest 335 million yen. via Toyota courtesy of Motor Trend Staff
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