Salesforce, Toyota work on social cars

Salesforce and Toyota have announced that they have formed a strategic alliance to create "Toyota Friend", a private social network for cars based on Salesforce's Chatter.

Salesforce and Toyota have announced that they have formed a strategic alliance to create "Toyota Friend", a private social network for cars based on Salesforce's Chatter.

Toyota

(Toyota image by Daniel, CC BY 2.0)

The network will first be offered in Japan alongside Toyota's electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012.

The idea behind the social network is to give the car a social identity so that it can communicate its needs to the owner in a social media fashion, such as needing a service or an oil change, and also allow car owners to connect with dealers and the factory.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda said at the announcement that it was critical that the company take on a new challenge to engage younger people who were "less inclined" to purchase cars, making them change their mind.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said that as Toyota moved on with automotive technology, it also needed to adopt new cloud technology.

"Toyota Friend is an idea that I had when I was thinking about the changes that are going on in our industry today," Benioff said.

"I want a relationship with the car in the same way that I have a relationship with other friends on the social network."

The network would create a fundamental linking of the social networks, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or another network.

Toyota had already developed its own telematics services to connect people and cars, but Toyota Friend is aimed at extending this.

With a social connection to dealers and factories as well as the call centre and contact centre, Toyota would be able to spot quality issues quicker, and customers would be easily able to discover new features.

Salesforce and Toyota will both invest in the venture, with Salesforce pledging ¥223 million (AU$2.5 million) and Toyota putting up ¥442 million (AU$5 million). Microsoft, which has a strategic partnership with Toyota for next-generation telematics services, will invest ¥350 million (AU$4 million).

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