A new move from Toyota may mark the demise of the dreaded “Check Engine” light — the company is launching Toyota Friend, a social networking service that lets drivers receive Facebook status updates…from their cars.
Specifically, you can “friend” your car on the social network, and then get regular messages regarding maintenance needs — when to get your oil changed, your tires rotated, etc. The new FB service will be an extension of the recent deal Toyota made with Microsoft to use cloud computing to give drivers access to GPS and other internet services directly from their vehicles.
In keeping with the futuristic take on communicating with your Toyota, your car will eventually be able to “chat” online with you — though only if you have a battery electric and plug-in hybrid models, and only in Japan. So if you tend to leave the lights on on your traditional gas-guzzler, don’t expect your car to send you an e-mail anytime in the near future.
The Toyota Friend network won’t be limited to car-driver interactions. In a smart move that enables customers to become brand ambassadors, Toyota will let owners use the network to connect their cars with their Facebook and Twitter contacts as well (though why you’d want to be friends with your friends’ car remains a bit of a mystery).