posted 3 weeks ago

Toyota launches its latest foray into mobility services

Toyota KINTO mobility services

The inexorable march from car manufacturer to mobility provider continues at Toyota, which has now launched its latest foray into mobility services with Kinto. Far from just being a car-sharing service, Kinto will be an overarching brand above four individual services, including ride-sharing, subscription-based leasing and carpooling.

“Kinto is part of our strategy to grow our total European business,” explains Johan van Zyl, president and CEO of Toyota Europe. “In markets where it can be viable and sustainable, adding mobility services to our traditional business model will allow us to respond to new customer needs and support cities and regions’ emerging mobility requirements.”

Toyota launches its latest foray into mobility services Image

Image from Toyota 

Toyota started building the foundations necessary to integrate mobility services into its existing business back in 2018, setting up Toyota Fleet Mobility and Toyota Connected Europe. These focussed on growing a full-service leasing option in Europe, with operations in Spain, France and Italy, with a recent acquisition of Inchcape Fleet Solutions in the UK adding a more local choice. TCE operated as a technological enabler and data company, developing products such as Toyota Big Data Centre

The first step into building on this will be Kinto Share, a car-sharing service similar in principle to DriveNow (a joint venture between Daimler and BMW which has recently pulled out the UK and USA entirely) or Zipcar, which let users rent cars by the hour using a phone app. A large hybrid vehicle range via a self-service app, allowing for motoring without running costs. Ideally suited to those in the city needing a car just occasionally, the service is already running in Dublin, Copenhagen, Madrid and water-bound Venice under the Yuko brand.

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Yuko offers customers in Dublin cars from specified collection points from around £7 an hour, with a full day costing from £46. This includes insurance, free on-street parking and 30 miles of free fuel.

Kinto Join operates in the corporate sphere, allowing for carpooling by employees benefiting workers with lower costs and companies with reduced CO2 footprints and lower capital expenditure. The service is already running in limited numbers, with 40 clients in the UK making 7,000 pooled journeys each day. Toyota will roll out features to enable large companies to create commuter groups, allowing even greater co-use of vehicles.

Joining these is Kinto One, a full-service leasing offer. This will provide a car, maintenance, service and insurance for a single monthly fee. It’s a service that’s offered by many manufacturers and has been for some years, but popularity is growing as consumers get used to paying for every item, from phones and TV to healthcare and even holidays, in simple monthly payments.

Kinto Flex, as the name suggests, offers a more flexible leasing alternative with a premium user experience on top. Subscribers will be able to change cars frequently, upgrade for a holiday for example, or borrow cars more suitable to a specific need. Amongst others, Volvo is trialling a similar service in London as the market moves from car ownership to car usage.

Toyota launches its latest foray into mobility services Image

Image from Toyota 

Toyota is also investigating the viability of a ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft, to be called Kinto Ride. However, there’s no suggestion that this is a foregone conclusion, and any service will be many years away.

While most of these services already exist in one form or another with other brands, and sometimes within Toyota itself, the Japanese firm is keen to become part of the entire infrastructure rather than simply a supplier of vehicles.

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Millennials, and younger, are moving to a pattern of usage rather than ownership, losing a manufacturer a potential customer, while elderly drivers who give up their licence are lost to a car seller, too. By becoming both a provider of vehicles and the infrastructure behind mobility solutions, Toyota gets to keep a share of every step of the ownership or usage journey.

“Our new mobility brand Kinto signals that the company is more than ever determined to meet the evolving mobility needs of the customer,” adds Matthew Harrison, executive vice president of Toyota Europe. “Toyota and Lexus are well-established automotive brands, built around reliable quality cars. With Kinto, our ambition is to create an equally strong brand for mobility services - a brand that consistently delivers exceptional customer experiences, whether moving close to home or travelling in other markets. Kinto epitomizes Toyota’s ambition to deliver Ever Better Mobility for All.” 

The road is a long one, as Toyota has plans to increase outright sales by 2025, but it’s confident that the timelines will intersect eventually, with both businesses complementing each other, and leaving Toyota in a strong position if car sales decline significantly.