Toyota Motor Corp. and Microsoft Corp. are teaming up to develop a next-generation telematics software platform that the automaker expects will debut on Toyota electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles next year.
The companies plan to invest 1 billion yen, or about $12 million, into Toyota Media Service Co., a Toyota subsidiary, to support the partnership, the companies said in a joint statement Wednesday.
Toyota's future telematics applications will run on Microsoft's Windows Azure platform, the companies said.
The in-car electronics system may help Toyota's battery-powered vehicles planned by the world's largest automaker run more efficiently.
Along with plans for telematics services -- including data, navigation and in-car entertainment, and multimedia using Microsoft's Windows Azure platform -- the system may manage energy use in vehicles, the companies said.
While automakers such as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., which also offer an in-car electronics system developed with Microsoft, have expanded the range of services available in cars, Toyota said it expects demand for a system that can improve a vehicle's energy efficiency.
An electric car's range can vary significantly based on how drivers use heating and cooling systems, and other in-car functions powered by electricity. The company said it's already testing a telematics system in its home nation that links drivers, cars and homes to help manage overall energy consumption.
Toyota in 2012 is to begin selling a plug-in version of its Prius hybrid, a tiny two-passenger electric car and a rechargeable RAV4 SUV with a battery system from Tesla Motors Inc.
The partnership between Microsoft and Toyota "is an important step in developing greater future mobility and energy management for consumers around the world," Toyota's Toyoda said in the statement.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.