Section 8. Integrating IT and Exploring New Energy Sources
Item 3. ITS Initiatives
Development of vehicle telematics services
Technology for vehicle telematics (onboard information and communications systems), which drove the introduction of intelligent vehicle systems, also entered a new stage. In 1997, TMC set up Gazoo (now GAZOO), a system offering various kinds of automobile-related information through dedicated terminals and the internet, and also introduced the MONET vehicle telematics service that provided information through linked navigation systems and mobile phones.
In October 2002, TMC developed the new vehicle telematics service G-BOOK combining MONET and GAZOO technology. In the first version, the WiLL CYPHA was fitted as standard with a G-BOOK-compatible vehicle navigation system and a dedicated data communication module jointly developed with Denso Corporation and KDDI Corporation. The service offered driving information covering parking, leisure facilities, weather forecasts, etc., and additional functions such as email, an online message board, and a car-trouble notification service. On top of the basic functions of the vehicle (cruising, turning, and stopping), G-BOOK added one more (linking the driver to the rest of society) and was promoted as a new service enhancing safety and comfort.
From 2003, G-BOOK was fitted on a successively expanded range of vehicle series and the number of compatible navigation systems was also increased. Improved convenience was also targeted, for instance by allowing connection through mobile phones, which boosted its popularity. In 2005, the G-BOOK ALPHA service was introduced and offered not only faster transmission speed but also features such as a HELPNET function allowing emergency notification in the event of accident, sudden illness, etc.
In the meantime, coinciding with the rollout of the Lexus brand in Japan, the G-Link vehicle telematics system was launched in August 2005 for use with Japanese-market Lexus vehicles. It has won high acclaim for offering a service that provided a one-stop operator response to customer inquiries and requests.
In 2007 it evolved into the G-BOOK mX, which featured functions such as map-on-demand, which updated navigation system maps automatically, and more accurate traffic information reflecting the G-BOOK member's current driving situation. March 2010 saw the launch of G-BOOK BIZ, a vehicle management support system aimed at corporate customers of Toyota rental and lease dealers that was one of the "driving improvement support" initiatives taken by TMC to help such dealers. For G-BOOK, a tie-up was agreed with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and Mazda Motor Corporation, which began service in 2004 and 2005, respectively.