Toyota is teaming up with Panasonic to make interconnected houses and towns because it’s 2019 and that’s what corporations do. At least, Japanese ones anyhow.
The cyberpunk dystopia we all feared is coming faster and faster these days. China has a social credit system, VR and augmented reality is taking over, and giant companies are teaming up to bring us the smart home of our dreams. Or nightmares--it depends on your point of view.
To that end, Toyota and Panasonic are continuing their collaboration but in a new field. Instead of researching and manufacturing fancy new batteries for electric cars, they’re skipping the whole “car” thing entirely and going straight to building homes.
Panasonic’s housing subsidiary and Toyota Housing (yes, Toyota builds houses in Japan) announced a joint venture on Thursday to build smart homes and towns in Japan. The deal will see the two companies produce as much as 17,000 new detached homes which feature the latest in interconnected technology, including communication between those houses and wifi-enabled cars.
The deal will continue until January of 2020, but Toyota and Panasonic have a history of building upon their relationship. Their battery collaboration has been continuing since 2017 with no sign of stopping.
Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda said in a statement that he wants to bring "together the strengths of Toyota, with its vehicle business and connected business, and Panasonic, with its home appliance business, battery business and IoT business, and enhancing our competitiveness, with the housing business of both companies as the core."
"We will put our respective strengths together to offer new value in everyday life," added Panasonic president Kazuhiro Tsuga.
Of all the major carmakers, Toyota seems to be the one moving the world towards a brighter, greener, and more technologically advanced future. Last month, Toyota unsealed over 24,000 patents for their battery and hybrid electric powertrains, allowing any carmaker to start making their own versions of Toyota’s tech. This was done with the hope of spurring more competition in the electric vehicle market and bringing overall pricing down through economies of scale.