Toyota Tests Subscription, Car-Sharing Schemes in Japan

Toyota Motor Corp. is expected to become the first carmaker in Japan to test a subscription option to conventional car buying, The Nikkei reports.

The company also is rolling out a car-sharing program that taps the pool of some 40,000 vehicles that the company’s dealers in Japan already use for test drives.

Dealers will be encouraged to offer both services. The company warns its dealers that their combined annual sales in Japan are likely to shrink 20% to 1.2 million units by 2025 because of sagging interest in purchasing cars among younger consumers.

The subscription plan, called Kinto, will enable customers to drive a variety of Toyota’s vehicles for a fixed monthly fee that includes maintenance, insurance and taxes. The company figures the service will attract customers for two or three years, compared with much shorter periods for the car-sharing service.

Toyota has operated four dealer chains in Japan, each selling separate lineups with different price ranges. The Nikkei says the company plans to sell all models through all four networks by 2025, while reducing the number of models it offers to 30 from 40 today.

Toyota believes that integrating sales across the four chains will give dealers a broader array of vehicles for car-sharing, thereby enhancing their ability to generate profits.