Building on its continuing commitment to internet-connected vehicles, Toyota has just announced it plans to have its entire lineup of models in the U.S. cellular/internet connected by 2020. The plan was announced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
In a briefing with the media, Zach Hicks, senior VP and CIO of Toyota Motor North America CEO and president of Toyota Connected said that about 25 percent of its new models currently offers internet connectivity, but it may take another two years to roll it out to the entire fleet.
Beginning this year, Toyota also plans to roll out Amazon's cloud-based voice service Alexa within select Toyota and Lexus vehicles. The company believes that voice-activated auto systems will be standard in the future and it sees drivers using Alexa to perform a number of tasks, including providing driving direction and making hands-free phone calls.
One piece of connectivity that Toyota is rolling out much slower ia over-the-air (OTA) updating capability for onboard-system software. While being able to update system software in the background would be helpful to engineers, there is a widespread concern in the automotive industry that these systems may be susceptible to hacking or other outside interference.
Gil Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, told the assembled media that OTA updating is coming to the company's cars, but only once the cybersecurity concerns have been addressed by Toyota engineers.