Toyota wants to keep its new models up-to-date with software updates and to be readily accepted by its customers. Financial arm Kinto will start offering reduced leasing fees in Japan in exchange for allowing automatic upgrades.

Since 2019, Toyota has a branch specialized in the leasing of cars and commercial vehicles under the leasing modality . It’s called Kinto , and it allows cars to be rented directly from the manufacturer, without intermediaries. The new Toyota Prius will logically be in its catalog.

Well, Japanese customers will be offered a reduced leasing fee if they accept one condition: allow updates via the Internet, OTA , so that the cars are up to date in terms of software . In exchange, they will be able to see their fee reduced by 10%.

Shinya Kotera, president of Kinto, explained that the updates will include the car’s active safety functions , such as anti-collision assistance, without the need to go to an official technical service. It is not the first time that Toyota has made OTA updates available to customers .


 To date, the updates have generally been aimed at optimizing the charging process in electric cars, whether it be charging faster or unlocking battery capacity, as well as improvements to the infotainment system or software fixes that have been necessary . .

And what does the leasing fee have to do with OTA updates? Toyota has taken its cue from Tesla, whose upgrade system keeps cars up to date, even if they were built months or years ago, helping to maintain residual values.

In other words, if the residual values ​​of the Prius decline less, the future value will be higher , so the depreciation of the asset will be less. This means that a lower fee can be charged to the client, since there is less loss to blame, hence the fee reduction. The new Prius will be the first model to benefit from this initiative.


At Toyota they recognize that Tesla and Toyota customers are not much alike. While those of the American brand are willing to pay for updates and improvements after the purchase, those of Toyota are looking for something good, reliable and reasonably priced; this was commented by Kotera in an interview for Reuters.

Put another way, Toyota customers might not be willing to pay for extras or subscriptions, but would gladly accept upgrades to the car , especially if the monthly fee is reduced. This fits with the kaizen philosophy of the Japanese, continuous improvement. Let’s remember that updates do not always bring something good , such as downtime or possible side effects in poorly baked updates. Some will be wary.

For now, this offer will be limited to the Prius and only for Japan, although the Kinto division plans to extend it to more models and in other markets , such as ours, between one and two years ahead. It could end up becoming the norm in Toyota, since the future of the car goes through connectivity and not to be isolated from the network.

Under the paradigm of alternative formulas to ownership, manufacturers are interested in cars having a longer useful life as leasable assets. In the era of software on wheels, keeping it up to date is a way to extend its useful life, reducing the impact of obsolescence (planned or not).

What’s more, interest is growing in allowing multiple leases for each car. Without going as far as Japan, Toyota has a refurbishment initiative in the UK for leased cars , to make them almost like new and still get performance out of them. Another option is to be able to sell them at a higher price .

If you look closely, the pieces fit together. Physical reconditioning requires having the cars in the workshop, but digital or logical reconditioning does not, it consumes very few resources and is an effective and profitable solution. And it is that Toyota already began to see the useful side of computing a long time ago, since in the 50s it began to use computers for administration and logistics functions.

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