Toyota is testing a way to make its vehicles last longer. The approach, which involves refurbishing (remanufacturing, essentially) used cars, could potentially extend the life cycle of cars and trucks for years to come.
The core idea is not a new one. Many electronics companies already refurbish and resell tech items, such as phones, computers and gaming consoles. Some clothing and furniture stores are also adopting circular business models to reduce the effects of production, creation and disposal on the environment, as well. It also leads to lower prices on those refurbished items.
Now, the automaker is trying out a similar process in the U.K. under the banner of its sub-brand, Kinto, a car subscription service.
“We need to stretch the way we look at life for both the vehicle and the customer,” Agustín Martín, president and managing director of Toyota’s British wing, told Autocar. “I think we’re very familiar with the usual two- to three-year cycles that are extremely popular in the U.K., but we need to go beyond that two- to three-year cycle and say: ‘Okay, what happens in that second cycle and in the third cycle?'”
The concept Toyota is toying with would see drivers return their car to the factory after its first use cycle, such as a lease term, where it will be remanufactured to what the automaker calls “the best standard” to ensure that the second owner has a vehicle that is as close to new as possible. The company’s goal is to extend its contact time with its customers to at least a decade.
Toyota believes it could even potentially carry this remanufacturing process over a third time before focusing on recycling the car responsibly. The focus for the end-of-life process will be on avoiding waste and reducing the environmental impact of new vehicle production.
While the program is currently being used at Toyota’s U.K. plant in Burnaston, England, that manufactures Corollas, there is potential for it to extend to other locations if the trial is successful.