Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced a partnership to build a software platform for information technology in upcoming electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
The next-generation telematics services--which encompass energy management, GPS systems and other multimedia technologies--will use Microsoft's Windows Azure platform.
The two companies aim to develop and deploy telematics applications starting with Toyota's electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. Toyota's goal is to establish a complete global cloud platform by 2015 that will provide advanced telematics services to Toyota automotive customers around the world.
As part of the partnership, the two companies plan to participate in a 1 billion yen (approximately $12 million) investment in Toyota Media Service Co., a subsidiary that offers digital information services to Toyota automotive customers.
As part of its smart-grid activities, Toyota is conducting trials in Japan of its Toyota Smart Center pilot program, which plans to link people, automobiles and homes for integrated control of energy consumption. The carmaker believes that, as electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles become more popular, such systems will rely more on telematics services for achieving efficient energy management.
Microsoft has a history of delivering platforms and services to the automotive market, including in-car infotainment systems built on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform, in-car mapping services with Bing and the Microsoft Tellme voice application, and other consumer applications.