announced a new effort to jointly author telematics standards for their in-car electronics. While not visible to any of us mere mortals that just drive the car, the joint effort should result in better in-vehicle cellphone and other wireless device usage, along with better privacy and security standards for Internet connectivity from our cars. The two have created a memo of understanding and have begun work on a series of feasibility studies.Today both Toyota and Ford
The telematics study is actually just part of a series of collaborative efforts between the two car companies. They will work on new hybrid powertrain systems for both light trucks and SUVs to deliver better gas mileage and other efficiencies.
Ford has long had its own joint effort with Microsoft on its Sync feature, which is now found in more than three million of its cars. Sync is a pretty nifty package that combines GPS navigation (which used to be an extra cost option and is now part of the basic package), climate and audio controls, glass cockpit features and even the ability to do firmware updates of your car from a USB stick. I have driven several Ford cars and have found the system to be intriguing, although sometimes frustrating if you don't have the full-screen system installed.
Both companies' efforts are not going to result in actual customer-seen devices, this is more an API deal than anything else. Ford Sync, for example, won't find its way to any Toyotas, and both will continue to compete on the front-end side of things and what you will actually see when you sit in one of their cars. There is no timetable as to when these enhancements will be in any actual vehicles in the showrooms but a formal agreement between Toyota and Ford is expected later this year.