Car subscription service geared to shake up transport

Drivers will be encouraged to “subscribe” to their next car rather than purchasing it in a new push from one of a growing number of vehicle-sharing platforms in Australia.

Kinto, an offshoot of Toyota, will launch long-term car rental options on Tuesday to try to change the way motorists use and pay for vehicles.

The new offering, called Kinto Flex, will compete with electric vehicle subscriptions offered by energy giants including AGL and Origin, as well as short-term car rentals from providers such as Uber and Turo.

Kinto marketing head Vesna Benns said the company’s new service was designed as “car ownership for commitment-phobes”, with users able to rent a vehicle for months rather than buy one outright.

“People are becoming so used to subscribing to something – you’ve got your phone subscription, your Netflix subscription – so this is really the next step,” she said.

“For people who don’t want to make the big outlay for a vehicle, this gives them the flexibility to have a late-model car in their driveway.”

Ms Benns said 97 per cent of the cars in Kinto’s fleet were hybrid vehicles, giving users a chance to try lower-emission cars, and subscribers could swap their rental for a different model with seven days’ notice.

She said the company expected users to choose car subscriptions to deal with short-term changes, such as a temporary job posting, a visiting friend or family commitments.

“You might say ‘I’m going to take a Kluger (SUV) for the next three months because we’ve got kids’ winter sport coming up but when that season is done we can go back to having a Corolla’,” Ms Benns said.

“It will fit the bill for a number of different demographics.”

Kinto Flex car subscriptions will include petrol, insurance, roadside assistance and maintenance costs, but users must pay 17 cents for each kilometre they travel.

Toyota’s new service will go head-to-head with vehicle subscriptions from major energy providers including Origin, which launched month-to-month electric car plans in early March, and AGL, which operates car subscription services in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

International car-sharing service Turo also launched short-term car rentals in Australia in November, while Uber’s Carshare service lets users rent nearby vehicles by the hour or day.

Changing the car ownership model in Australia could prove tricky however, with figures from the 2021 Census showing 91 per cent of Australian households owned one vehicle and 55 per cent owned two or more.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


Like This