Toyota Prius Can Lease for Less If You Opt-In to OTA Updates
Like their toilets, public transportation, general public etiquette, and food, car buying really is better in Japan.
Usually, adding more tech-forward options to a car raises its price, but for Prius buyers in Japan, something slightly opposite will be true. As reported by Reuters, Toyota's Japanese leasing division Kinto says it will offer safety updates (for example, software related to the collision avoidance system) over-the-air and that customers who opt-in to those updates will be eligible for lower lease prices.
This is in contrast to most other automakers who either charge extra for OTA updates or don't have it affect prices at all. Kinto says OTA-equipped Priuses will cost 10% less to lease per month. In addition to lowering lease payments, the program will apparently serve to maintain the vehicles' used values, something that might pay off for Toyota in the long run when those leases eventually expire.
Speaking to Reuters, Kinto president Shinya Kotera said that Tesla customers—a bunch who are very much used to paying more for more tech features—are "high-income earners" who are willing to pay for the latest and greatest whereas the typical Toyota customer is the opposite of that. Reliability and value are the names of the game with Toyota buyers and that's the thinking behind the more-is-cheaper approach here.
The notion of letting people pay less for a car receiving OTA updates also aligns with the view that those updates may not always improve things. I mean, how many times have you updated your phone or laptop to the latest software only for it to run slower and with more bugs?
In any case, while the setup is exclusive to Japan and the new Prius for now, Kinto has apparently expressed interest in doing the same with other Toyota models "within a year or two" and is thinking about expanding it globally.
That faint, vaguely-evil-sounding chortle you hear is every dealership lobby group in America laughing before proceeding to slap $5,000 worth of dealer markup onto every new Prius.
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