Toyota Concept-i future car

Toyota unveils Blockchain Lab as it pivots to becoming a ‘mobility company’

A spokesman told Modern Consensus that blockchain can be used for transparency of vehicle value and for providing services to customers

After 11 months under the radar, the Toyota Blockchain Lab has been unveiled by one of the world’s biggest car manufacturers—with the Japanese auto giant revealing new details about how it plans to utilize the technology across its businesses.

According to Toyota, the company has been exploring promising applications for how blockchain could benefit its operations and customers alike. Demonstration trials were performed in November, confirming its feasibility.

Four key use cases have now been identified by the Toyota Blockchain Lab. Through blockchain, it is hoped customers will enjoy greater convenience through ID sharing and improvements to the way they manage their personal information. Existing services for Toyota models are also set to be enhanced, with new concepts being developed that use “all information concerning vehicle life cycles.”

Toyota Blockchain Lab
The automotive industry is undergoing a ‘once-in-a-century period of profound transformation (Photo: Toyota Blockchain Lab)

From a supply chain perspective, Toyota is hoping to make its business processes more efficient—achieving traceability by recording information on parts, shipping and manufacturing on the blockchain. The fourth use case, “value digitization,” suggests new financing methods could be developed by tokenizing vehicles and ownership.

Toyota said the automotive industry is undergoing a “once-in-a-century period of profound transformation”—and the manufacturer is preparing to reposition itself as a “mobility company that provides wide-ranging services to transportation.” Part of this will involve “making friends” with other businesses so customers can benefit from connectivity across all of the products they rely on, irrespective of who makes them.

Searching for collaborators

A spokesman for the Toyota Blockchain Lab told Modern Consensus that the corporation believes this technology can be used in a wide range of fields.

“Taking the theme of the demonstration trials last year as an example, we believe that it can be used for transparency of vehicle value by recording external maintenance information, for connecting various services inside and outside the Toyota Group, and for providing services to customers on a one-stop basis,” he explained.

Toyota Blockchain Lab
Toyota said it must start ‘making friends’ with other businesses (Photo: Toyota Blockchain Lab)

The spokesman also declined to reveal specific firms that the Toyota Blockchain Lab is hoping to work with—or confirm which companies are currently involved. However, he said: “We would like to work with blockchain companies that have strength in technology, companies with excellent business ideas, and a wide range of partners who can create new value together.”

When asked about the Toyota Blockchain Lab’s plans for the rest of the year, he said roadmap details and timings are currently undecided, adding: “We plan to promote demonstration trials in an environment closer to actual services during 2020.”

Toyota also hopes to implement blockchain technology in the “Woven City” initiative it announced two months ago. Billed as “the prototype city of the future,” the 175-acre site at the base of Japan’s Mt. Fuji aims to become a “living laboratory” where full-time residents and researchers will develop and test new technologies relating to smart homes, personal mobility, robotics and autonomy in a real-world environment. Construction on the site is scheduled to commence early next year.

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Connor Sephton is a journalist with an interest in cryptocurrencies, personal finance, and financial inclusion—as well as the challenges the crypto industry faces in achieving mainstream adoption. He owns cryptocurrencies.