Toyota to make “Connected Vehicles” its new standard in Japan; redesigned Crown and Corolla Sport as 1st-generation Connected Cars
The future of just-in-time vehicle services and support has in Japan in the form of two well-known Toyota vehicles—the Crown, the volume nameplate’s flagship passenger vehicle—and the Corolla Sport—the all-new hatchback version of the Corolla—launched just this year.
Crown and Corolla Sport, as the first generation of “Connected Cars,” come standard with an on-board Data Communication Module (DCM) that links to a Controller Area Network (CAN). By using this hardware, Toyota can provide various connected services to T-Connect subscribers through its proprietary Mobility Service Platform (MSPF), an information infrastructure developed by the company for Connected Cars. Moving forward, Toyota aims to equip most new passenger vehicles in its domestic market with DCM.
Connected Car Service using MSPF
Our goal is to enhance services to customers utilizing vehicle data uploaded to our mobility service platform. Importantly, we will also use connectivity to change the way we work with our dealers across the country.—Shigeki Tomoyama, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation and president of Toyota’s in-house Connected Company
Toyota considers some connected services essential for drivers to safely, intuitively and effortlessly enjoy their cars. Connected cars, linked to the MSPF will offer customers ways to better understand, use, and care for their vehicles. Toyota also thinks the best quality connected services will combine human- and technology-based support, in what the company calls “Human Connected Service.”
Services based on vehicle data. With the addition of new services based on vehicle data, Toyota hopes to offer security and peace of mind to customers 24/7. To ensure the smooth operation of these connected services, Toyota will establish a “Connected Operation Kaizen Dojo” within its training center in Nisshin-city (Aichi Prefecture) and train dealership staff nation-wide. Services include:
e-Care Driving Guidance. Operator-based services offer drivers two primary benefits. The first is a concierge service, where an operator will be available to set the destination of the on-board navigation system. The second is for driving support, offering advice to drivers by diagnosing technical faults based on linked vehicle data. This benefit comes via a feature called “e-Care Driving Guidance”, in which a remote operator is able to speak directly to the driver through the onboard microphone and speaker in the event of technical failure. The operator is able to review the vehicle data supplied by the DCM and provide either trouble-shooting steps or advise the driver to bring their vehicle in to their usual or nearest service dealership.
e-Care Health Check Report. The Toyota Smart Center monitors and examines the vehicle 24/7, and Toyota makes the data available to its dealers. The customer’s preferred dealer will then him or her to bring the vehicle in for service at the ideal timing interval. For instance, any vehicle’s auxiliary battery’s starting voltage gradually declines over time. With the data provided, an alarm will be shown at the dealership’s operational platform and the dealership staff will the driver and recommend a battery change prior to the customer experiencing trouble when starting their vehicle. The message from the dealership is sent to the car’s navigation unit and read aloud to the driver.
HELPNET. Toyota is offering an emergency call service linked to air bag deployment, called “HELPNET”. Upon detecting air bag deployment, an operator from the service will immediately review data sent by the DCM as well as attempt to the customer to assess the situation. Depending on the customer’s response, or lack thereof, the operator then is able to alert fire or ambulance services. If emergency services consider that severe injury is likely, they may respond, possibly even dispatching a medical helicopter or such together with a doctor to provide emergency medical treatment. This service will cover the entire country of Japan.
Insurance based on driving behavior data. The standardization of DCM also makes it possible to introduce automobile insurance based on actual driving behavior data. Drivers will be assigned a safety score based on their driving data collected in the MSPF. Drivers can use their smartphone to check their safe driving scores.
This score can then be part of a new data-based insurance, called the “Toyota Connected Car Insurance Plan,” which will be launched by Aioi Nissei Dowa Insurance Co., Ltd. The insurance premium will be updated every month based on the policy-holder’s safe driving score and driving distance, and notifications sent to the customer through their smartphone. Insurance premium discounts may be up to 80% of usage-based insurance premiums and 9% of the entire premium.
Improvements in online service through standardization of DCM.
AI Voice Recognition Service. Using voice recognition, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) virtual agent can be accessed using the driver or passenger’s natural speech and can set the destination for the navigation system, manage the audio system or even provide instructions to use the car’s equipment. The AI is designed to also understand complicated requests such as “Please search for Soba restaurants around here, preferably with a parking lot.”
My Car Account on the LINE app. Customers may also use the popular smartphone application LINE with their car. With a LINE “My Car Account,” drivers or passengers will be able to have a conversation with the vehicle by registering it as a friend on the LINE app. For example, if a LINE account holder inputs a destination in the chat function with the “My Car Account,” the destination will be sent to the on-board navigation system. The LINE app can also provide information such as idealistic time of departure, distance to empty, and fuel efficiency, based on the time and distance to destination.
Hybrid Navigation. Leveraging the cloud and big data, the on-board navigation system will have access to the latest version of the program and map data at all times. To provide customers real-time services, the navigation system will use real-time map and traffic data to suggest the optimum route information to help drivers reach their destination, automatically switching between cloud and on-board computing for optimal route calculations and location searches.
The redesigned Crown: first-generation connected car flagship
Toyota has the completely redesigned Crown. Since its debut in 1955, the Crown has been a symbol of Toyota innovation. As illustrated by TRC (traction control) featured in the 8th generation Crown (1987) and ABS in the 9th generation Crown (1991), leading-edge technologies that are now used in many vehicles featured in the Crown before any others on the road.
Crown RS Advance 2.5-liter hybrid.
The new 15th generation Crown enters the world as Toyota’s first-generation connected car equipped with a standard DCM.
Style and vehicle performance such as driving, turning, and stopping were also refined based on TNGA. For driving in particular, testing was carried out at Germany’s Nürburgring circuit. Outstanding handling realizes responsive driving performance and exceptional vehicle stability in a range of driving conditions and scenarios, at low or high speeds, on smooth or rough road surfaces.
The new Crown uses a new platform based on TNGA. The powertrain is positioned lower to achieve a low center of gravity, and aluminum hood fenders and optimized distribution of weight between the front and rear deliver excellent inertia specifications.
TNGA FR Platform
A front high mount multi-link suspension and rear multi-link suspension, optimized steering rigidity, use of aluminum die-casted front suspension tower, and application of a significantly greater amount of structural adhesive further enhances body rigidity to realize responsive handling and a stable, comfortable ride.
In addition to the optimized vehicle body frame structure and optimum arrangement of soundproofing materials, active noise control is adopted. Sound emitted from the speakers utilizes phase inversion to enable noise cancellation and enhance quietness.
The new Crown offers three powertrain options:
2.5-liter Dynamic Force Engine (A25A-FXS) Hybrid System. The 2.5-liter hybrid Crown adopts a hybrid system mounted with the TNGA 2.5-liter Dynamic Force Engine that achieves both great thermal efficiency and high output. The vehicle delivers exceptional driving performance and 24.0 km/liter*6 fuel efficiency (under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s JC08 test cycle).
2.5-liter Dynamic Force Engine Hybrid System
V-6 3.5 liter Multi-stage Hybrid System. The 3.5-liter Crown is now the first Toyota brand car equipped with the Multi-stage Hybrid System. The Multi-stage Hybrid System is a mechanism that employs a hybrid system combined with stepped gears to control the output of both the 3.5-liter V-6 engine and the drive motor to provide strong driving force from low speeds to achieve powerful performance.
By selecting an operating point for high system efficiency from the low-speed range to the high-speed range and, thus, expanding the range of BEV driving, the system achieves both an emotional driving experience and highly fuel-efficient, pleasant cruise.
Adjustments in engine rotations faithfully in line with the intentions of the driver and highly responsive motor assist are made possible by 10-gear-change control regardless of the driving situation, creating a direct acceleration sensation perfectly linked to pedal operation.
2.0-liter Direct-Injection Turbo Engine. The 2.0-liter Crown adopts a 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo engine whose output is enhanced by the increase of intake and exhaust port efficiency. High response is possible from low-rpm, while high torque is secured in the entire range.
New Corolla Sport
Toyota launched of the new Corolla Sport in Japan; an Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) Corolla is scheduled for release in August. The new Corolla Sport makes its debut as a first-generation connected car, connecting people, communities, and cars, while offering individually tailored services for safety, security, comfort, and convenience.
The first-generation Corolla, which made its debut in 1966, was developed with the passion to pave the way for a motorized society in Japan. Corolla boasts a total of more than 46 million vehicle sales in more than 150 countries and regions.
Hybrid G “Z”
The Corolla sport offers two powertrain choices: a 1.8L hybrid system (2ZR-FXE) and a 1.2-liter direct injection turbo (8NR-FTS).
1.8L hybrid system.
The Corolla Sport is the first Toyota brand front-engine front-drive vehicle in Japan using Linear-solenoid-type AVS (Adaptive Variable Suspension system). Linear-solenoid-type AVS instantly adjusts the damping force for each wheel according to road surface and driving conditions to deliver a comfortable and luxurious drive on any road surface condition.
Gasoline turbo and CVT vehicles feature 10-speed sport sequential shiftmatic mode for a fun drive.