Will New Social Network Increase Sales of Toyota EV/Plug-In Hybrids?

Want to buddy up with other Toyota owners or potentially engage with the automaker on a personal level? Provided you live in Japan, you may be in luck, thanks to a new social network program developed by Toyota itself.

The automaker and Salesforce.com recently paired up to create a private social network for Toyota's Japanese customers. Dubbed "Toyota Friend," the social network is further focused on customers who decide to buy into either electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. Plans are in the works to expand the network to other regions and vehicle types. To create the network, Toyota is crafting its specialized subsidiary -- the Toyota Media Services Co. -- and investing nearly $5.4 million into the venture. Salesforce.com will put down another $2.7 million in funding.

Toyota Friend will offer features such as a notification service, available to smartphones and tablet computers, when vehicles are running low on battery power. Other features include allowing customers to extend their networks through Twitter and Facebook to communicate with family and friends.

“Toyota and Salesforce.com share a vision to take the auto industry into the future," said Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com. "Social and mobile technologies will transform the car ownership experience, and we are excited to be Toyota’s partner in this transformation.”

“Social networking services are transforming human interaction and modes of communication," said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Company. "The automobile needs to evolve in step with that transformation. I am always calling for Toyota to make ever-better cars. The alliance that we announce today is an important step forward in achieving that goal.”

This isn't the first time Toyota's rolled out an infotainment/ telematics service designed to aid PHEV and EV drivers. Last month, Toyota and Microsoft announced a partnership to development new in-car infotainment systems, along with electronic systems to improve driving efficiency.

Source: Toyota

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