Toyota is evolving and changing the direction more towards plug-ins, specifically towards all-electric cars, as well as gearing up for a software battle.
According to Nikkei, the Japanese company has decided to develop a comprehensive automotive software platform that will be launched by 2025.
This new operating system, called a year ago "Arene", is expected to cover everything from basic infotainment and control functions up to advanced applications, related to safety and autonomous driving.
Not only that, the new platform will be available for all make and models related to the Toyota group, including brands like Subaru, and maybe even to some other makes, through a licensing model.
"Arene will control basic components -- the steering wheel, brakes and accelerator, for example -- and manage safety systems as well as location and traffic information. All vehicles with the OS, regardless of make or model, will have access to shared functions. Consumers can update the system online, much like smartphone software, enabling quick improvements to performance."
It means that Toyota will follow the manufacturers that already decided to take all the software development in-house. The market leader in this category is Tesla. Among established groups, there is Volkswagen which - not without pain - moves forward with its own software solution. The article mentions also Daimler and General Motors.
Software is becoming more and more important as there are more and more features that have to be developed and integrated with an option for further over-the-air updates. That's a high part of the cost and the value of the new vehicles.
Toyota is now expected to boost hiring of software specialists to 40-50% of fresh engineering graduates (from 20% previously).
Meanwhile, this year the company will launch its first global all-electric model, the Toyota bZ4X.