Toyota is launching its own onboard emergency notification system in 2009. The system is called Safety Connect and can react automatically to inform relevant authorities in case of an accident.

Toyota is finally reacting to Ford's voice-activated Sync and GM's OnStar safety systems. Microsoft-developed Sync was launched 18 months ago while OnStar has been around for 12 years.

Called Safety Connect, the Toyota module features automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location and an emergency system. The Enform system which gives weather reports and live operator assistance in finding directions, will also be offered. Word on which Toyota brands will get the systems as well as pricing is not yet available. However, Lexus should acquire the extra eDestination feature that allows users to programme up to 200 destinations via the Lexus website which then sends them directly to the car.

GPS (Global Positioning System) is used by the vehicle locator to find a stolen vehicle once police are informed, while an Emergency Assistance Button will connect the individual to a response centre. If an airbag is deployed or a rear-end collision takes place, Safety Connect will automatically contact a response centre. Twenty four hour roadside assistance is also given.

Toyota should be successful with Safety Connect as similar systems have seen a good uptake with consumers. OnStar for instance, currently has 5.7 million paying subscribers who part with US$18.95 a month for its services. Other players may also be joining the fray.

A spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association (CES), which is hosting the annual CES in Las Vegas this week said: "You are going to see other car manufacturers with Sync, it won't go away".


Gallery: Toyota to launch own onboard info system this year - targets Ford Sync and GM OnStar