Could Toyota soon be hopping onto the car sharing industry? It seems likely so as the Japanese automaker has recently announced that they will be pilot testing a new car share application in Hawaii. Together with Servco, the Toyota, Lexus, and Subaru distributor for Hawaii, the two will test software and services as part of Toyota's Mobility Services Platform (MSPF).
For the time being, only employees will be involved in the pilot testing program. After the test, Servco will use the technology to launch a new Honolulu-based car share business by the end of 2017. Much like the usual ride sharing apps, the car-sharing application will support drier identification and authentication, and payment and fleet management for car sharing businesses.
However, Toyota's application does have its own unique differences. For one, it includes a smart key box, which allows the user to lock and unlock vehicles via a smartphone. And unlike apps such as Uber and Grab, one picks up the car from a specified location instead of being picked up by a car and driver. The app was developed in-house by Toyota and managed by Toyota Connected North America.
"This new application demonstrates the power of combining Toyota's unrivaled global manufacturing and technology capacity with dealers' extensive local operations to provide consumers with more convenient options to move," said Shigeki Tomoyama, President of Connected Company, Toyota Motor Corporation.
Initially launch in January 2017, Toyota began work on the program in car-sharing pilot program in California. Following the test in Hawaii, Toyota will also begin working with other dealers and distributors to tailor the technology for their market's needs, making a safer and more convenient customer-centered mobility service.
Toyota has yet to announce whether the application will be US only or made available to other regions.