The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor Corp. will launch a car-sharing service through affiliated auto-rental shops across Japan.
Toyota is already operating a pilot program at some locations. Plans call for a full launch under a new brand, starting with about 10 affiliated car-rental locations in Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi Prefecture and elsewhere, including the facilities participating in the pilot program. Toyota will gradually expand the service nationwide by urging car-rental affiliates to introduce it at their roughly 1,200 locations.
...Some have expressed concern that the growth of car sharing will eat away at sales of new autos. But Toyota expects customers will tap the service during business trips or for errands such as shopping, and thus believes its car sales will not take a significant hit. The automaker envisions customers treating the service as like having a second car.
Currently, noted the Nikkei report, an estimated 7,000 vehicles are available for car sharing in Japan, with Times24 Co. and Orix Auto Corp. controlling 80-90% of the market. The market is projected to grow sixfold from the 2010 figure to about ¥15 billion (US$190 million) in 2013, according to the Yano Research Institute.