Following in the footsteps of other big name automakers in recent times, Toyota is set to introduce a car subscription service that might just tempt drivers away from traditional car ownership. But the model comes with an interesting twist, incorporating a reward system for sound driving that could make the experience cheaper for its smarter users.
Porsche, BMW, Audi and Volvo performance car subsidiary Polestar are just a few names to flag the introduction of subscription programs in the last year or so. The models and prices will obviously vary across these different services, but the overall idea is the same –customers are given access to a range of vehicles for a single, regular fee. For example, you could drive a Porsche Cayman one day, and a Boxster the next.
Toyota's solution comes via a spin-off company called Kinto, funded by Toyota itself along with Sumitomo Mitsui Auto Service Company. It will offer access to its vehicles in Japan through two subscription models, and will be piloted in Tokyo in the coming months.
Kinto Select offers subscribers access to six different higher-end Lexus vehicles over a three-year period for a monthly fee of ¥180,000 (US$1,600), while Kinto One allows a customer to drive one of five Toyota cars over a three-year-period, with pricing starting at ¥46,100 (US$420) for a Prius and ending at ¥99,000 (US$900) for a Crown. Both programs include insurance, registration and taxes.
Toyota says that for the Kinto One program, however, it plans to introduce a reward system that will award drivers points depending on how they use the car. This could pertain to how safely they are navigating the city streets and how eco-friendly their driving is, with points then able to used for discounted payments.
Though this points system won't be introduced until fall in Japan, trials of Kinto Select start today in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, while Kinto One kicks off on March 1. Toyota hopes to roll both out nationally in the Japanese summer.
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