Toyota Connected 2023 Year in Review: From the Digital Space to the Public Space

Toyota Connected North America (TCNA) has hummed along since its inception in 2016, offering products and services that keep Toyota and Lexus drivers moving. After bringing many engineering duties in-house in 2018, more than 8 million vehicles in North America are now able to benefit from products and services developed by TCNA, including telematics and in-vehicle voice assistance to handle many vehicle functions.

That in-sourcing and cost-optimization helped lead to Chief Financial Officer Mike Cross earning a Dallas Business Journal CFO of the Year award in 2023. Cross joined fellow TCNA leader Shravanthi Denthumdas as a DBJ awardee, herself receiving “40 Under 40” honors. The two executives were part of a larger team that led TCNA through a year of change and progress.

Chris Yang was promoted to CEO at TCNA, further bringing his expertise within Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) into closer alignment as a number of TCNA projects near production. Yang previously served as chief operating officer of TCNA as well as its general counsel in previous tenures and currently leads many EV and hydrogen initiatives at TMNA.

Along with Yang’s promotion, TCNA also named James George as senior vice president and chief operating officer and Kohta “Kody” Arai as chief liaison officer.

TCNA expanded its Women in Technology organization activities, including introducing a book club, hosting panels on diversity in the workplace and promoting personal and professional growth opportunities.

Other new opportunities came by way of introducing Cup & Code to learn more about new technologies, and TCNA team members brought back two favorites: Running Club and Whiskey Club.

Speaking of campaigns, during Earth Day, TCNA data scientists and engineers tracked approximately 10,000 Toyota fleet vehicles to see how using the Eco button could offset CO2 emissions. Collectively, drivers across North America were able to conserve the equivalent of more than 5,000 gallons of gasoline just by pressing the button.

In market, the team helped build and launch EV Range Assist, a cloud-based algorithm that uses data from battery-electric Toyota bZ4X vehicles to provide greater insights into electricity energy usage and performance, via the head unit display. This helps customers know when to charge to optimize their routes using real-time data and a digital twin of their vehicle’s powertrain modeled against how the car is being driven.

Engineers followed up with their first auto show activation – a Generative AI-powered art generator for Lexus at the New York International Auto Show that could position a 2023 Lexus RX or RZ luxury utility vehicle into nearly any environment guests could imagine. Generative AI would continue to gain traction across the tech industry – and within TCNA overall, with a much-easier-to-read vehicle owner’s manual concept.

TCNA followed up NYIAS with a program that is supporting the launch of the all-new 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. Because it can be a challenge to test the truck’s new IsoDynamic Performance Seat, which has its own built-in suspension system, TCNA partnered with TMNA to engineer an immersive, high-speed off-road simulator to show the seat in action before the truck’s on-sale timing.

Engineers also built out digital blockchain trophies to support the Toyota GR Cup racing series. The engineers continued introducing a number of future-forward ideas to the annual Toyota SWARM Global Hackathon and are further entrenching themselves into the future of mobility. TCNA is a lead sponsor of the Hackathon, and its teams of engineers brought their A-games to the 72-hour event.

It was a year of reaching the public space, showing what TCNA is capable of outside its walls. TCNA has grown into a crucial service provider for Toyota; 2024 promises an ever-greater opportunity to show just what it can do.

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