A new partnership between Microsoft and Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) was announced today during a live press conference, which places Microsoft Windows Azure at the heart of a global platform for TMC's next-generation telematics services. Telematics is the fusing of telecommunications and information technologies in vehicles; it can encompass GPS systems, energy management and other multimedia technologies.

The two companies are investing approximately $12 million (1 billion yen) in a strategic partnership through Toyota Media Service Co., a Toyota subsidiary that offers digital information services to Toyota automotive customers.

Microsoft has a long history of delivering platforms and services to the automotive market, including in-car infotainment systems built on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform, in-car mapping services with Bing and the Microsoft Tellme voice application, and many other consumer solutions. Now, working as partners, Microsoft and Toyota will build a global cloud-based platform for delivering new Toyota telematics services through a Windows Azure platform.  These advanced telematics will be installed in Toyota's electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012.

While all this is an exciting prospect in itself, it's only the first step in developing greater future mobility and energy management for consumers around the world. 

Of note for our readers, Toyota's U.S. operations are based here in Southern California, with headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

You'll find more about information about the ways this new partnership will advance automotive technology and energy efficiency by visiting the Microsoft News Center.