Toyota to add entirely nonsensical social networking capabilities to cars in 2012

Making random things social- like vending machines and grocery shopping– is a marketing trend that is likely to plague us for some time.

Of course, with more than one in three people hitting up the money-printing machine that is Facebook before they brush their teeth each day, a measure of it is to be expected. Sometimes, it makes some sense even if it is of little value and use. Then there are times like this where it’s difficult to even see how it would work and you kind of just think it would have been easier for Toyota to slap a “Like” button decal on the side of a Matrix and call it the 2012 Status Update.

Toyota’s not the first automaker to encourage this sort of bizarre interaction between drivers and their vehicles- we just posted last week about Ford introducing apps to monitor your health. I am not a luddite by any means- indeed, many have accused me of over-reliance on technology- but can someone explain to me how this would even work? How can your car “tweet” you if you’re low on gas? Does that mean all your friends find out you’re irresponsible and forgot to get your oil changed at 3,000 miles?

Toyota described the new Toyota Friend service in a press release, but there’s scant information on how the information- private or public by user choice- is disseminated to drivers:

Toyota Friend will be a private social network that connects Toyota customers with their cars, their dealership, and with Toyota. Toyota Friend will provide a variety of product and service information as well as essential maintenance tips, creating a rich car ownership experience. For example, if an EV or PHV is running low on battery power, Toyota Friend would notify the driver to re-charge in the form of a “tweet”-like alert. In addition, while Toyota Friend will be a private social network, customers can choose to extend their communication to family, friends, and others through public social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The service will also be accessible through smart phones, tablet PCs, and other advanced mobile devices.

So… It’s like an app? Or it emails you? Or it texts you? Other services integrate with smartphones and tablets, but what makes the Toyota Friend network more social? Do you think this would influence a vehicle purchasing decision for you? Or does it sound a bit like Christine?