Wi-Fi standard on all new Toyota and Lexus models from 1 September

Toyota has taken the first step towards in-car connectivity by announcing the availability of 4G based LTE Wi-Fi in all of its new models, including Lexus derivatives, from 1 September.

The result of a collaboration between the automaker, technology giant Altron Netstar and communications provider Vodacom, the Wi-Fi rollout forms part of Toyota Connect which not includes the MyToyota app available for Apple and Android devices, but also a 15 GB data bundle loaded onto the system once the purchase has been made.

“Toyota and Lexus are passionate about creating a guest centric business based on the needs of our guests who want a very personalised and customised experience,” Toyota South Africa President and CEO, Andrew Kirby, said that the official announcement made at Toyota South Africa’s head office in Johannesburg on Thursday (29 August).

“Over the last two years, a lot of work has gone into creating what is a South African developed solution. The app for instance is very user-friendly, there is no signing-in all the time and the technology [used] in terms of the hardware and connectivity is strong”.

In addition to the Wi-Fi and data, which can be topped-up via the app or a user’s banking app once depleted, the app itself comes with features such as GPS location, AA supported 24/7 roadside assistance, a digital logbook, customised reminders, a driver rating tracker, fleet management alert for small businesses and a battery health check identifier.

Also included is a service booking feature which alerts owners as to when their vehicle is due for a service, and also allows them to make a booking from the app without going to a dealership physically.

“The app [effectively] becomes a platform for us to connect with our guests and for our guests to connect with the [Toyota] brand and our dealerships. It is all done in real time and at your fingertips,” Manager for Future Toyota, Kerry Roodt, said.

Also speaking at the event, attended by Communications and Digital Technologies Minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Altron Netstar Group Chief Executive, Mteto Nyati, said that the tie-up shows that South Africa is capable of world producing technology of international standards.

“We co-created and co-innovated [this project with Toyota and Vodacom] and we were very clear on what we wanted. We sat down and worked together on this [innovation] that was going to be a world first,” Nyati said.

“We wanted something that was going to differentiate this partnership [from others] and something that was going to be a world first. Anyone who was worked with Toyota will know that their standards are not ordinary. We are [therefore] very excited that we have people within Altron Netstar that can match the best in the world and who are able to come up with technology such as this”.

Vodacom Business Chief Officer, William Mzimba, has hailed the partnership as “important” in that it adheres to the company’s slogan and focus of “connecting for a better future”.

“When you contextualise this partnership, it speaks about connecting for a better future by bringing forward what we refer to as the fourth industrial revolution. We all spend a lot of time in our cars and [some] require the kind of experience where they feel that the technology is working for them,” Mzimba said.

“When Toyota and Altron said ‘this is what we are intending to do’, we were super excited about ushering-in an Africa first, a world first that does not require 5G. [While] we are excited about autonomous vehicles, maybe they are a couple of years away from us, nothing says we cannot begin to improve the experience of how people connect with their cars and this [partnership] is taking the technology to the technology so that when autonomous vehicles arrive, people are already accustomed to it”.

With the project having received the approval from Toyota Japan and also adhering to the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), Kirby stated that the experience will be similar regardless of it being in an Etios or a Land Cruiser 200.

He also stated that the Wi-Fi and 15 GB bundle will eventually be offered as a retro-fit on older Toyota models for a yet to be confirmed fee, also stating that more features regarding the app will be developed and introduced in due course.

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