April) Car sharing, ‘subscriptions’ expand in Japan as vehicle ownership loses its shine – The Mainichi
April 11, 2021
TOKYO — Once upon a time, having a car was a status symbol. But in Japan, young people in particular are leaving car ownership behind, forcing the country’s automakers to seek and strengthen strategies beyond the simple dealership sale. Now, a host of alternative ways to get behind the wheel are popping up, especially in cities, from fixed fee vehicle “subscriptions” to car sharing.
“I want to change this decades-old idea that a car is something you buy.” So said Shinya Kotera, president of Toyota Motor Corp. subsidiary Kinto Corp. during an online briefing on the company’s Kinto One service in January this year.
Kinto was launched in March 2019, and offers three-, five-, and seven-year vehicle “subscriptions.” The customer can use the car as though it was their own, while it legally belongs to Kinto. There is no down payment or vehicle inspection fee, while insurance, registration, maintenance and other costs associated with traditional car ownership are all covered by the fixed monthly subscription fee. Applications and contracts can all be handled over the internet.