Toyota creates new mobility pillar, Toyota Connected inks deal with Avis
Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) has announced the creation of a new group called the Digital Transformation & Mobility Pillar, according to a company statement. The new group will be led by newly appointed chief digital officer Zack Hicks, reporting to TMNA CEO Jim Lentz, who will retain his role as president and CEO of Toyota Connected. The new group will be effective on 2 April 2018, including information services, with interim head TMNA CIO Zack Hicks; connected technologies, led by vice-president Steve Basra; and future mobility business group, led by group vice-president Chris Tinto, Toyota said. Areas the group will develop include shared mobility, connectivity services and over-the-air feature upgrades. In the statement, Hicks said, "Digital Transformation & Mobility brings together three integrated teams who can focus on new business innovation, voice-of-customer excellence and digital product development." CEO Jim Lentz said, "As Toyota transitions from a traditional car company into a global mobility company, we are focused on how we can better suit our customers' needs now and in the future. Bringing these mobility functions together under Zack's leadership gives us the ability to collaborate in unprecedented new ways." Separately, the company's Toyota Connected division announced a partnership with car-rental company Avis Budget Group. The deal will include adding 10,000 Toyota connected vehicles to the Avis rental fleet, and leverages the Toyota Mobility Services Platform. The MSPF is operated under Toyota Connected, and Zack Hicks. Regarding the Avis partnership, Hicks said, "At Toyota Connected North America, we are leveraging the power of data science to develop and deliver new mobility services that create new value for businesses and customers alike. Toyota's mobility services platform will provide Avis Budget Group with enhanced connectivity and visibility into their fleet, and bring travelers increased control and convenience over their rental experience." Toyota says that the platform will enable real-time rental information through the Avis mobile app, as well as providing fleet-management capabilities for Avis.
Significance: These moves demonstrate Toyota's increasing efforts in the mobility services space, as well as demonstrating the variety of solutions automakers are taking in researching, developing and commercialising mobility solutions. Building a relationship with Avis also has the potential for opening opportunities for a fleet management relationship which has potential to be leveraged for future mobility solutions, as Toyota develops autonomous vehicles. Toyota also notes that the car-sharing firm that began using the platform in November 2016, Getaround, is still using it.
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