Toyota Australia is rolling out a new short-term car rental and sharing app called Kinto, as it pivots from being an auto-maker to a “mobility company”.

    Australia’s top-selling car brand today announced the launch of the Kinto Rent smartphone app, which gives members access to Toyotas from set off-street locations and whichever Toyota dealerships choose to participate.

    Toyota also owns and runs the Kinto Share app service introduced quietly to market earlier in the year, which provides “convenient on-street sites with around-the clock access” to fleet cars, much like GoGet for example.

    In its initial phase, Toyota vehicles booked through Kinto are available in the Melbourne CBD and nearby suburb of Carlton, as well as Toyota Dealers in regional Victorian towns Kilmore and Seymour.

    But the company intends for the program – which falls under the umbrella of Toyota Finance Australia – to expand at a rate of knots as it hedges against competitors services.

    “Kinto is the next best thing to owning your own car because it is simple and affordable to book and drive the latest Toyota vehicles, including our popular hybrid models,” said Toyota Australia vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley.

    “… This innovative brand will allow us to respond to emerging customer needs and mobility requirements that go beyond our traditional business model.”

    By supporting Kinto, Toyota moreover gets a new way to register demonstrator cars, and can theoretically get more people behind behind the wheel of its products – people who some day may be ready to buy.

    Kinto operates from a smartphone app, including sign up, booking, access and payment. Unlocking and locking of the vehicle is done via buttons from within the app as well.

    A (now discontinued) Toyota Prius C costs $9.10 per hour plus 30 cents per kilometre. The discounted day rate is $63 plus 27c per km, while the weekly rate is $294 plus 18c per km.

    Other vehicles listed as part of the fledgling program include the Yaris and Corolla hatchbacks, Prius V MPV, Camry sedan, C-HR crossover, RAV4 and Kluger SUVs, plus HiLux and HiAce commercials.

    To get an idea of the price in context, a HiAce Cargo LWB van suited to a house move costs $108 for a day plus 36c per km, with fuel included. A quote on the same vehicle from Hertz was $74.83 per day with 150km free travel, fuel not included.

    But the Toyota model offers the potential for a hands-free, all-hours service operated through an app, which is the customer interface of choice for many people.

    While not yet available in Australia, Toyota Europe offers other Kinto programs such as Kinto One, which is a full-service lease plan that covers all associated costs in a single monthly ownership payment.

    The Toyota Kinto program is one example of how the company is diversifying. It also sells its vehicles online through its consumer website, and has been regularly promoting its Certified Pre-Owned program too.

    With the pricing of its entry models like the new Yaris climbing precipitously in return for more features, the company appears to be pivoting to offering quality used vehicles as the entry point to its brand – what it calls “a strategic shift in approach”.

    Toyota Certified Pre-owned launched in 2012, and last year passed 100,000 sales in Australia. The company expects to sell more than 25,000 ‘certified’ used cars every year from now, in addition to the more than 200,000 new vehicles.

    Used cars sold under the aegis of this program – accessed via a centralised database that trawls through the dealer network – are billed as a cut above your typical used car.

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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