Toyota has been testing a dispatch system for taxis that is similar to that of ride-hailing firm Uber for a Tokyo cab service. The taxi-dispatch system being developed by Toyota makes use of data obtained from cab locations, smartphones, weather patterns as well as other factors with a view to determining the most efficient way of distributing a taxi fleet in Tokyo.
Some of Toyota’s partners in the project include Accenture, telecommunications giant KDDI and Japan Taxi. The accuracy rate of the dispatch system so far has been 94%. Besides backing Uber as an investor, Toyota has also invested in Japan Taxi. According to the president of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, data will play a key role in the future of the Asia’s biggest car manufacturer. Consequently the carmaker has been seeking partnerships with technology firms.
Demand and supply
One key difference that has emerged between ride-hailing services and traditional taxis is that in times of great demand such as when it is raining, the former has proved to be more adept at meeting demand relative to the former. To achieve this ride-hailing firms such as Didi, Grab, Lyft and Uber have used flexible pricing and software to direct cabs to areas where the demand is greatest and thus enhancing efficiency as well as profits. According to Japan Taxi, the pilot program it ran with Toyota showed that drivers were able to increase their sales by around 20% which was higher than an average of 9%.
The installation of TransLog devices by Toyota in 500 taxis operating in Tokyo began in 2017. It is expected that the dispatch service which is based on artificial intelligence will be rolled out to more taxis before a full roll-out later this year. Toyota will also use the data collected in real-time to assist in constructing dynamic maps which will contribute to its autonomous driving efforts.
This comes in the wake of Toyota being overtaken by Mercedes-Benz as the world’s most valuable car brand. According to Brand Finance the brand value of Mercedes-Benz grew by a figure of 24% from last year to hit $43.9 billion while that of Toyota declined by 6% to reach $43.7 billion. The decline in the brand value of Toyota was blamed on its relatively weak position in the world’s largest car market, China. While Chinese buyers have shown a high interest in aspirational luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz they have not demonstrated the same keenness with regards to Japanese carmakers.