TOKYO (

TheStreet

) --

Toyota

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said Monday it was forming a private social network with

Salesforce.com

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for Toyota's customers and their cars.

"Toyota Friend" will be powered by Salesforce Chatter, a private social network used by businesses. It will operate in ways similar to

Twitter

or

Facebook

.

The service initially will be offered in Japan with Toyota's electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles due in 2012, the companies said in a press statement.

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"Toyota Friend" will provide product and service information and service maintenance tips. For example, Toyota said, if an EV or PHV is running low on battery power, "Toyota Friend" would notify the driver to re-charge the battery with an alert similar to a "tweet."

The alerts can be kept private, or they can be shared with other "Toyota Friends" users. They also can be made public on Twitter or Facebook.

Toyota is investing 442 million yen ($5.5 million),

Microsoft

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is investing 335 million yen ($4.1 million) and Salesforce.com 223 million yen ($2.8 million) in the project, according to

The Associated Press

.

"Toyota and Salesforce.com share a vision to take the auto industry into the future. Social and mobile technologies will transform the car ownership experience, and we are excited to be Toyota's partner in this transformation," said Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff in a statement.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel

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