Toyota and Lexus vehicles are getting a big upgrade to in-car Wi-Fi later this year. As part of its CES showing this week, Toyota on Monday announced a partnership with AT&T to bring unlimited data plans and a bunch of vehicle diagnostics and safety assistance systems to a number of the company's products.
Beginning this fall, a number of 2020 model year Toyota and Lexus products will be available with this connectivity tech. Toyota says the Wi-Fi tech will enable owners to "share entertainment among multiple smartphones and tablets from the open road." Furthermore, the AT&T service will allow owners to choose unlimited data plans.
This will replace Toyota's current, Verizon-based Wi-Fi offering, but will not void those existing connectivity plans. "Current vehicle (and owners) are not involved," a Toyota spokesperson told Roadshow. "Once deployed, new vehicles will be equipped with AT&T instead of Verizon."
Beyond its entertainment capabilities, the Wi-Fi service will allow owners to do things like remotely start and condition the car and send vehicle health information directly to dealers. It'll also offer what Toyota is calling "Safety Connect," where owners can be connected to an emergency response center, 24/7.
Those nonentertainment related, connected-car services are made possible thanks to KDDI. In 2016, Toyota announced a partnership with the Japanese telecom company to roll out data communications modules (DCMs) that work across different cars in different markets., this could eventually lead to a worldwide network of connected Toyota and Lexus vehicles. In a perfect world, anyway.
CES 2019: See all of CNET's coverage of the year's biggest tech show.
: It's six days of jam-packed events. Here's what to expect.