The telematics in Safety Connect actually use a combination of GPS and cellular signals to keep tabs on drivers and monitor their safety. A version of Safety Connect called Enform will also be outfitted to Lexus vehicles. In order to differentiate the up-market product from the lesser Toyota edition, Enform will add the ability for drivers to connect with operators who can assist them with finding local restaurants and hot nightlife spots, as well as provide directions to their destination.
This is an interesting contrast to OnStar, which provides this level of service to vehicle owners no matter whether they are driving a Chevy or Caddy. Enform does provide an extra wrinkle of letting Lexus drivers plan out their trip beforehand on the internet using a service called eDestination, and then having those plans copied automatically to their vehicle’s navigation system.
The only surprising thing about Toyota’s Safety Connect and Enform services is that it has taken them so long to appear on the market. Clearly, technology was not the issue given that General Motors has been selling the service for over a decade. It will be interesting to see how many new customers Toyota is able to attract through Safety Connect, particularly given the stratification of its services into standard and premium levels.
Consumers do not typically react well to de-contenting, particularly if competitors do not go down the same route. One thing is certain – now that the two biggest players in the automotive game have both dipped their toes into the telematics arena, other car companies will be forced to follow suit in order to maintain a comparable level of features in their newer automobiles.