In 2016, if you're an automaker without a dedicated team for connectivity and mobility, you're playing catch-up to a large degree.
With Ford continuing to stress how it's a mobility company in addition to being an automaker, Toyota is also mashing the dash on mobility.
On Monday, the automaker announced it will launch Toyota Connected as its own dedicated company, focusing as a data science hub for software and data-driven mobility.
"Toyota Connected will help free our customers from the tyranny of technology. It will make lives easier and help us to return to our humanity," Zack Hicks, CEO of the new company and Toyota's chief information officer, said as part of the company's announcement Monday. "From telematics services that learn from your habits and preferences, to use — based insurance pricing models that respond to actual driving patterns, to connected vehicle networks that can share road condition and traffic information, our goal is to deliver services that make lives easier."
The way Toyota sees its new company working is that it will leverage power of data science via Microsoft's Azure cloud computing to "develop predictive, contextual and intuitive services" that bring the human experience of driving to the forefront, while pushing technology into the background, where it's working, but in more of a seamless manner.
"Toyota is taking a bold step creating a company dedicated to bringing cloud intelligence into the driving experience," Kurt DelBene, Toyota's executive vice president of corporate strategy and planning at Microsoft, said. "We look forward to working with Toyota Connected to harness the power of data to make driving more personal, intuitive and safe."
The new company is already providing data and computer science services across the company's lineup, including support for ongoing research into artificial intelligence and robotics and the Toyota Research Institute.
That being said, the specific data Toyota Connected is providing and its future ambitions are still relatively vague, at this point. More than anything, though, you get the feel that automakers want it to be known how entrenched they are and will be with mobility, with Ford, BMW, Toyota and more having made similar announcements.