This is actually very smart business.
New technologies and updates to existing ones are introduced every new model year. It doesn't take long for a vehicle bought only a few years ago to become somewhat technologically obsolete. Those who lease vehicles for only two or three years don't face this situation. But consumers who opt to buy don't always care about the latest pieces of tech wizardry. They simply want reliable transportation and value for their money. Toyota fully understands this. That's why it's beginning what appears to be a trial program in its home country of Japan called "The Kinto Factory."
According to The Asahi Shimbun, this service is aimed at customers who want to keep their cars up to date with parts and software in order to keep them for longer.
Owners will be able to install software updates specifically for safety and driver-assist features like parking and lane changing. They can also replace hardware like damaged seats and steering wheels. Best of all, the program isn't too expensive, though it does depend on the service. Prices begin at around 10,000 yen, or about $87 USD, and ranges upwards to 100,000 yen ($874). For the time being, not every Toyota and Lexus model will be included in the service.
Those that are, include the Prius, Aqua (aka the now-discontinued Prius C), Alphard van, and the Lexus NX. Only six Toyota dealerships in Japan, located in Tokyo, Hamamatsu, and Shizuoka Prefecture, are taking part in the program but this could easily expand if things go well.
Toyota already set up a dedicated website where drivers can sign up and send service requests. The plan is to gradually expand the number of dealers and the list of models for eligibility. It's way too soon to know whether this service is coming to North America but it is a smart idea. Normally you'd think automakers are interested mainly in selling new vehicles, and that's true.
But, Toyota also understands it's vital to maintain excellent relations with consumers and help them with their vehicle ownership experience over the years. One day, that driver will need a new vehicle and Toyota wants to make certain they don't shop elsewhere.