For Toyota Pilot Programs, Focus Moves to Utilization From Ownership [VIDEO]

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Toyota Finance Services has deployed several pilots in ridesharing and car rental services. The company gave specific insight into the findings from two of these pilots at this year’s Auto Finance Summit.

“A variety of scenarios are going to coexist in the future, it’s between personally owned and shared, and autonomous vehicles and driver-driven,” Sabreen Dhillon, Toyota Financial Services, senior manager of relationship marketing, said in a presentation at the summit.

To work toward these future scenarios, Toyota partnered with Uber in December 2016 to test Uber drivers’ ability to make weekly payments on off-lease Toyota vehicles directly from rideshare earnings.

“In order to launch this pilot, we had to develop a number of capabilities, which included payment-splitting, customer data collection on things like GPS location, mileage tracking, and the handling of early returns,” Dhillon said.

The flexible lease program with Uber had a 24-month term, so the findings of this program are just beginning to make their way into new product offerings. Ultimately, Toyota has decided to expand the program with Uber.

“The goal is to bring autonomous rideshare at scale to market,” she said. “This means that Toyota is integrating its technology, along with Uber, into Toyota vehicles that are being put on the rideshare platform for continued research and development.”

A few key results from the Uber pilot will shape the way the program moves forward.

“We learned driver behaviors were varying widely, and that some people simply needed, or wanted access to a vehicle when they needed it,” said Dhillon.

This realization caused a shift from the focus on traditional ownership model that focuses on the sale of the vehicle to an access model, where the focus is on utilization rates. The resulting pilot, short-term rentals in partnership with Launch Mobility, launched in late 2017, is still proving itself.

“Early performance indicates that we’re already at about 30% utilization or 7 hours per day,” Dhillon said. “We see there is demand for it, but we’ll have to see how things progress.”

Check out the exclusive interview below, which is part of a special video series sponsored by White Clarke Group.

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