Japanese car giant Toyota has announced a new car-leasing programme that allows motorists to select from a range of models as the mood takes them, reflecting the trend away from car ownership towards car usage.

Toyota’s wholly owned company Kinto will offer two options to customers in a service being trialled initially in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Kinto One, launched this month, allows motorists to drive one choice of Toyota vehicle for three years for a monthly subscription of $419; initially subscribers will be able to choose from the Prius, Corolla Sport, Alphard, Vellfire, and Crown models. Further models will be introduced later in the year.

Kinto Select, which will launch next month, offers drivers the chance to drive up to six Lexus-brand models over a three-year subscription period for $1,638 a month.

Packages include voluntary insurance payments, vehicle tax, registration charges, and regular maintenance of the vehicle.

Similar, lease-rather-than buy schemes have been tried by other manufacturers with varying degrees of success, Techcrunch noted.

Volvo’s Care by Volvo has been an undoubted success; but Cadillac ended its “Book by Cadillac” service, although it says it has plans for a relaunch.

Toyota, though, has introduced a novel element. It says that, starting in the autumn, it will reward motorists for superior driving. It hasn’t yet detailed the technology it will deploy to monitor “safe” or “ecological” driving, but the assumption is that it will involve the telematics, or black boxes, used by a number of insurance companies to fix premiums according to driving quality.

Toyota says points will reward the best driving and these can then be used against subscription payments.

“As society shifts from conventional car ownership to car usage that can be enjoyed wherever and as much as users would like, there is a growing need for a service that allows customers to freely select the car that they like or want to drive and enjoy it as they like, instead of using a car simply as a means of transportation,” Toyota said in its launch announcement.

There are no current plans to introduce the service outside Japan, Toyota added.

Sourced from Toyota, TechCrunch; additional content by WARC staff