Volkswagen should also be paying attention.
Toyota may be taking a slower approach towards fully electric vehicle adoption, but it refuses to be left behind in automotive software development. Instead of relying on things like licensing agreements, the Japanese automaker is moving full-speed ahead with a new platform called Arene. We first heard about the system late last summer but new details have now come to light.
The Arene operating system is slated to come to market by 2025, according to Nikkei Asia, alongside those from two key rivals, Tesla and Volkswagen. Outside tech companies are also developing similar systems they hope to license to automakers. Toyota, like Tesla, Mercedes, GM, and VW, has no intention of utilizing someone else's software. It has the resources, financially and technologically, to do this in-house.
Assuming all goes to plan, Toyota aims to make Arene available to Subaru and other affiliate brands alongside its own vehicles. The Arene software will control a vehicle's basic functions, such as the steering wheel, brakes, and accelerator, to name just a few. It'll also manage safety systems, traffic navigation, and location.
Best of all, every new Toyota model, whether it's a base Corolla or a fully-loaded Lexus LS will have the capacity to be equipped with it. At launch, there's a chance Arene will be optional on some models but could come standard in the Lexus lineup.
All Arene-equipped vehicles will share access to general functions. Owners can update the system online like a regular smartphone when improvements are released.
Software engineers won't have to wait for hardware advancements for updates and cloud integration will enable engineering teams to work together and/or remotely. The plan is to open up Arene to other developers in the hopes outside talent will create applications for things like autonomous driving.
This open-sourced approach is somewhat unusual for Toyota because it typically likes to keep things internal. This is yet another example of how automakers are becoming software companies too. Developing these ecosystems not only benefits their ability to control their future vehicles but also creates new revenue sources potentially worth billions.