TOYOTA DEVELOPS APP TO START UP CAR FROM SMARTPHONE

Japanese car maker Toyota has developed an app called Smart Key Box that lets people use smartphones to access and start up a car. The app would only allow users that have previously signed up for the shared-use car to operate it, providing a more secure way of lending and renting cars, Toyota said in a statement on Monday. For the pilot programme that will begin in San Francisco in January has invested in Getaround in October -- a peer- to-peer sharing service that allows private car owners to rent out their vehicles when they are not using them. The device works with a cloud service where an individual can be given access to a specific car for a set time period, CNET reported.

According to Toyota, Smart Key Box "can be placed in a vehicle without modification," enabling engine start and door lock access. The smartphone app, connecting to Toyota's cloud-based Mobility Services Platform, can also handle payments and loan scheduling. "The platform has individual business functions like vehicle management systems and leasing programmes," Toyota said.

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