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Wednesday, 11 January 2017 | MYT 5:30 PM

Toyota says future is constant connection for drivers

Gamechanger: Navigation will be key for all Camrys, but Toyota call it a game-changer for its higher-grade Camrys. — Bloomberg

Gamechanger: Navigation will be key for all Camrys, but Toyota call it a game-changer for its higher-grade Camrys. — Bloomberg

Constant connection. That's the vision a Toyota executive offered in a talk on mobility at the North American International Auto Show, one day after the Japanese automaker revealed a redesigned, eighth-generation Camry at the show. 

The company plans, by 2020, to "connect all our vehicles and provide customers with services that truly enrich their lives and bond them to our brands," said Sandy Lobenstein, Toyota's executive vice president of connected vehicle services, in prepared remarks. That plan means embedding so-called data communication modules in almost all of the company's new vehicles in Japan and the U.S. 

But before that, the company is rolling out new services through its Entune 3.0 system, which it unveiled last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, particularly focused on in-vehicle navigation. 

"For the first time in a Toyota product, navigation is standard across the Camry model lineup," Lobenstein said. 

Navigation will be key for all Camrys, but Toyota call it a game-changer for its higher-grade Camrys. The dynamic navigation feature will allow those Camrys to update their maps automatically rather than force owners to go to a dealership for an update. Lobenstein noted that less than 10% of customers update their embedded maps. 

"For properly equipped 2018 Camrys, Dynamic NAV will have the Toyota Smart Center analyse a 4-square-mile grid around the vehicle. Any roads or points of interest that are on the database in the Smart Centre, but not in the onboard map, will automatically be displayed on the head unit," Lobenstein said. 

"Dynamic NAV overlays the new road as you drive. And when you set a destination, the system verifies and updates the roads and (points of interest) at your departure point, at your destination and along your route so you can be sure to have the most up-to-date directions." 

Entry-level Camrys will have the ability to use Telenav's Scout GPS link, which is downloaded onto a mobile device, he said. 

When activated, the service puts directions and maps on the vehicle's head unit. 

Beyond navigation, other new services include dynamic voice recognition, which makes use of a larger database to "provide more accurate responses to voice initiated requests"; destination assist, which can allow drivers to connect to a live operator; Entune Remote, which allows users to start and stop an engine or lock and unlock a vehicle from a smartphone, and service connect, which provides vehicle health reports to the driver as well as a dealership. 

There's also 4G LTE WiFi on the higher-grade Camrys, and the Entune app suite, connecting to Pandora, Yelp and other apps, will be standard on all models. 

Lobenstein mentioned leasing options for Uber drivers through Toyota dealerships, and a pilot program in San Francisco to simplify car-sharing, using a secure device and a smartphone app. — Detroit Free Press/Tribune News Service

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