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KDDI to supply SIM cards for Toyota's connected cars

Tech will enable global communications, leading to a massive new revenue source

Toyota plans to equip nearly all cars sold in Japan and the U.S. with communications functions by 2020.

TOKYO -- KDDI will start supplying subscriber identity module, or SIM, cards for Toyota Motor's connected cars in 2019. The new cards will enable communications globally, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The move by the Japanese "au" mobile service provider comes as the Japanese auto giant plans to equip almost all the cars it sells in Japan and the U.S. with communications functions by 2020.

Toyota sells about 4 million autos in Japan and the U.S. annually. If they are all fitted with KDDI's communications functions, the telecom company will rack up hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, the sources said.

The SIM cards will allow Toyota to gather cross-border data such as information about the locations of cars, their travel distances and their failure data.

Toyota will use the data to improve its product quality management, among other purposes.

KDDI has tied up with Toyota for the development of connected cars using the current fourth-generation wireless standard. In Japan, KDDI is already supplying communications functions for Toyota's Lexus luxury brand and some other car models.

The telecom operator will supply SIM cards called "eSIM" cards to Toyota starting in 2019. In such cards, content can be rewritten remotely. Wherever in the world they are, cars equipped with the cards can automatically connect with local telecom networks.

KDDI will partner with telecom companies around the world to enable global communications.

Global location data will also allow Toyota to know more about the situation of car exports by self-employed traders and use the data to recall cars and for other purposes.

Toyota will also be able to gather data concerning the operations of anti-lock brake systems, which are designed to prevent cars from skidding, as well as car failure data by travel distance.

Failure data by travel distance will help Toyota understand what types of malfunctions are likely to occur after various travel distances. This should help it improve the quality of its cars.

KDDI has relations with telecom companies around the world dating back to its early days.

Taking advantage of its ability to provide communications services on a global scale, KDDI intends to propose the use of its products to other automakers.

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