Toyota has surprised the motoring world with the announcement of a planned social networking service, Toyota Friend, in partnership with customer relationship management specialist

Toyota Friend is designed to be a private social network for Toyota customers to connect with their dealership, with Toyota itself and, the company claims, with their car.

The service, which is due to launch in Japan for the company’s electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid vehicle customers before rolling out internationally, will provide a range of product and service information as well as maintenance tips with data from the car fed back into the service.

An example offered by Toyota suggested that an electric vehicle that was running low on power could send a Twitter-like message through the service to its owner, reminding them to charge at the next available opportunity.

The service will also act as a traditional social network, connecting Toyota owners together and offering the option of opening a user’s information to friends and family via connections to Facebook and Twitter, with full smartphone, tablet, and mobile device support included.

“Social networking services are transforming human interaction and modes of communication,” claimed Toyota president Akio Toyoda during the announcement. “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.”

The service is expected to launch some time next year.


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