Toyota’s leasing unit, Kinto, announced its new “Unlimited” service this week for Japanese customers beginning with the next gen 2023 Prius. The new product will bring down monthly payments for Prius customers in Japan who opt for over-the-air (OTA) upgrades, keeping their cars up to date for longer to help them hold onto their value for longer.
If Japanese customers agree to the optional service, which brings regular over-the-air updates to the new Prius (and more cars in the future), their monthly payments could be reduced by as much as 10 percent. This marks the first time that Toyota will update safety features, like the collision avoidance system, for vehicles on the road.
“Kinto Unlimited” customers will have over-the-air updates baked into the price of their lease, and Toyota says that it will help their vehicle “evolve” over the course of the ownership period. Systems like collision damage mitigation braking, will be regularly updated to the latest iteration over the air.
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The new Prius, the first vehicle on which Kinto Unlimited will be offered, has also been designed with physical evolution in mind. According to the automakers, the new car’s “upgrade-ready design” means that hardware updates like blind spot monitors, panoramic view monitors, steering wheel heaters, and more can be added to the vehicle quickly and easily by dealer technicians.
These will help further maintain the vehicle’s value, by helping it evolve new features over time. New hardware updates will start becoming available in mid-2023, the automaker says. Unfortunately, these are not included in the price Kinto Unlimited, but can be added to a lessee’s monthly fee, or paid for all at once.
The service will also offer a new connected service called T-Connect, which gives drivers information about their driving habits and offers tips on how to be safer or more fuel-efficient. The service may also someday give customers information about car care, and could help them schedule things like oil changes based on their behavior, rather than on a one-size fits all mileage estimate.
Do It Like Tesla
Shinya Kotera, the president of Kinto, said that this approach adapts a more modern ownership experience pioneered by brands like Tesla to its more value-focused customers.
“Tesla’s customers are, to put it simply, high-income earners, and many of them are willing to pay for new and good things so that’s why their products are a hit with that segment of the market,” Kotera told Reuters in an interview. “Toyota’s customers are not like that. They are not someone who would pay extra for a new technology. They are looking for something good, reliable and inexpensive.”