Toyota halts plan to install U.S. connected vehicle tech by 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp said on Friday it was halting plans to install Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) technology, aimed at letting cars and trucks communicate with one another to avoid collisions, on U.S. vehicles beginning in 2021.

FILE PHOTO: A Toyota logo is displayed at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

Automakers have been divided in the United States over whether to proceed with the DSRC system or use a 4G- or 5G-based system.

Toyota announced plans in April 2018 to begin the installation of DSRC technology in 2021 “with the goal of adoption across most of its lineup by the mid-2020s.”

Automakers were allocated a section of spectrum for DSRC in the 5.9 GHz band in 1999 but it has essentially gone unused. Some Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and cable company officials want to reallocate the spectrum for WiFi and other uses. Testing has gone on for years to see if the spectrum band can be shared.

Toyota said the decision announced Friday was based on “a range of factors, including the need for greater automotive industry commitment as well as federal government support to preserve the 5.9 GHz spectrum band for DSRC.”

The Japanese automaker added that it would “continue to re-evaluate the deployment environment” and but said it is still a strong backer of DSRC “because we believe it is the only proven and available technology for collision avoidance communication.”

DSRC transmissions enable vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications and broadcast precise vehicle information up to 10 times per second, including location, speed and acceleration.

General Motors Co backs DSRC and has installed the technology on a small number of Cadillac CTS sedans it has sold since 2017.

In December 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed to mandate DSRC in all new vehicles. The Trump administration has not acted on the proposal.

Last year, the acting head of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Heidi King, said the agency’s “past research has centered around DSRC — because that was the only technology available.”

She added that NHTSA was “exploring other technologies” including cellular-based services that Ford Motor Co was pursuing, however.

Ford said in January it planned to deploy cellular vehicle-to-everything technology,  or C-V2X , in all new U.S. vehicle models beginning in 2022.

Last year, FCC Commissioners Mike O’Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel wrote Toyota urging them to examine “potential opportunities to advance automotive safety using newer technology, such as C-V2X systems” when “committing capital expenditures to DSRC technology.”

NHTSA has estimated that connected vehicles technologies could eliminate or reduce the severity of up to 80 percent of crashes not involving impaired drivers.

The U.S. Transportation Department plans a meeting on Monday with automakers and state transportation officials about connected vehicle efforts and use of the 5.9 GHz spectrum, officials said Friday.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown

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