Toyota announced it has formed a strategic partnership with Microsoft that will see the automaker leverage cloud computing to deliver next-generation, on-board services to its vehicles.

Toyota said the two companies will invest $12 million in Toyota Media Service Co., a Toyota subsidiary that delivers digital information services to the Japanese automaker’s customers. As part of the investment, the partners will develop and deploy telematics applications on the Windows Azure platform, Microsoft’s cloud computing delivery platform.

Toyota said its goal is to establish a complete global cloud platform by 2015 that will provide advanced on-board services, such as global positioning systems, energy management services and multimedia technologies.

“This new partnership between Microsoft and Toyota is an important step in developing greater future mobility and energy management for consumers around the work,” Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Service Co., said in a statement. “Creating these more efficient, more environmentally advanced products will be our contribution to society. To achieve this, it is important to develop a new link between vehicles, people and smart center energy-management systems.”

Toyota will start with its electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. Among the examples cited of how customers might use on-board services was an application that could be used to schedule when a Toyota electric vehicle should be recharged, based on when energy costs are the least expensive.


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