Automakers are beginning to realize too many cars are sitting for too long without being driven. In that vein, Toyota is launching a car sharing pilot program that allows users to unlock shared cars without the need for a physical key. The program, established in partnership with car sharing company Getaround, starts in January in San Francisco.
Instead of a key, car sharing users will receive special codes on their smartphones granting them access to the vehicle. When the smartphone comes in close contact with the car, the codes are authenticated through Bluetooth technology with what Toyota calls a Smart Key Box. This box can be preset to operate within certain time periods specified under a car-sharing reservation.
The Smart Key Box is just one part of Toyota’s plans for future mobility. The company wants to collaborate with various service providers and the telematics insurance industry to support a wide variety of operations affecting mobility. It will leverage the Toyota Big Data Center and its financial services division in this effort. Toyota lessees, for example, will be able to use the income generated from car sharing toward their payments.
“As a mobility service platform provider, by collaborating with various companies and services, we would like to help create a new mobility society in order to offer safer and more convenient mobility to our customers,” Toyota said in a recent statement.
Toyota says that if all goes well, it will even consider launching an unmanned rent-a-car business in Japan.