The Flying Nimbus

Not simply keen on filling out streets with their wares, Toyota and Lexus are now about to launch a mobility scheme to the world.


Kinto, from their phrase Kinto-un, a fast moving service getting you wherever you need to go, is their mobility solution for every occasion. With life becoming increasingly dependent on internet connections and lives refusing to follow a set pattern, this Japanese idea of motion plans to cover every base, morning, noon and night.

My eyes were first alerted to this service in of all places, the desert. The Dakar Rally was recently held in the extreme dunes and sandy plains of Saudi Arabia where many an off-road bike, quad, car and truck competed in its Empty Quarters. Spaniard, Fernando Alonso who used to like driving on tarmac at speed entered the rally in a heavily modified Hilux.

Initially doing well, punctured tyres and mechanical problems put paid to an outright push for victory, though he did set some scintillating times in the later stages. He finished 16th overall and also completed two perfect rolls over a dune, landing back on all four wheels before promptly setting off to the stage end. On getting there and with media attention running high, only then did the Kinto logo catch my eye. Presumably, Toyota won’t be offering this service out in the dunes just yet.

But just what exactly is Kinto?

Full details are not available at this present moment ( in time but broadly speaking, the process is that of keeping you mobile. Kinto Sharing seems to offer exactly what it says on the hybrid tin; use of a hybrid without ownership costs. Should one need an executive vehicle to impress at the board meeting, a Lexus LS will appear. A Corolla estate for an extended IKEA outing.

Kinto Join is a carpooling system which can verify who is driving and to where. Through the app, you could request a lift from Brian in accounts and just round the corner collect Daphne in HR before popping to Tesco for the bosses milk he forgot this morning. He does like his lattes. Of course this would help prevent car parking issues at the office, save that wholesome carbon footprint and even allow three others to listen to Brian’s eclectic tastes in music: daily.

“Brian, any sign of that milk, yet?” (c)

Should you still require your own motor as you are permanently out on the road, Kinto One is the choice for you. With a singular monthly payment for everything bar the fuel, book the required length of use on the app, turn up to the dealership and go. 

None of the above suit? Not a problem for Kinto Flex covers everything else. This flexibility can offer you exactly the car needed, to your door with but one click of a mouse or pressing that Book Now icon. A sports car for that weekend trip away. That estate for shifting the undergraduate from one end of the country to another. The hatchback for the weekly shop. The town car in order to nip to the theatre and park in a tiny space.

And whilst there are absolutely no details whatsoever on their website, coming soon is Ride Hailing which one expects will entail using your mobile phone to request a lift home. This is due to Brian leaving the office unexpectedly early today. And Daphne has to be home by four thirty as the builder is coming round for his payment for converting the now unused garage into a swimming pool.

I make no apologies for sounding even remotely cynical. Toyota’s examples sound incredibly well thought out, highly flexible and resoundingly resourceful; but the real world is different. For one and I fully expect to be in the minority here, but I rather like owning a car. It reveals the inner stegosaurus in me but whilst I accept that the world and his wife now pays monthly for a shiny new box every three years or so, my preference is that of long term ownership before the agony of possible replacements. I want to suffer for my artistic choices.

And what if Brian overlays, making you and your three colleagues late for work for the fifth time that month? Or, should he be prompt, the traffic is so bad that sat-nav cannot offer an alternative route equating to being late anyway? And would you really need an LS to get to the airport for three am when the taxi firm down the road can sort it for a phone call? 

“Daphne? It’s Brian. You best start walking…” (c)

What will then happen to not just main dealers but those of the street corner and deals to tempt those perhaps less well off? The back street garage who don’t possess the software to update the latest apps? Autotrader and all those other sites we can loose an hour or more in, tormenting ourselves with just what’s available second hand? People’s livelihoods will be obliterated and sitting in their space will be a computer savvy oik who might conjure you up a car should they not be too distracted from their phone screen or online ordered food.

Perhaps these old fashioned ways of mine just don’t fit in this perfect utopian image that not just Toyota has for us. For no doubt the Volkswagen and General Motor teams have similar schemes and incentives to take their services over others.

These schemes, along with PCPs have and will continue to change our perceptions of the car, it’s use and its availability. Parts of me really want it all to work as seamlessly as they plan though I plainly do not want to be placed in that unenviable position of switching it off and on again, hoping for my nimbus to magically appear. Now, just where is Brian?

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

6 thoughts on “The Flying Nimbus”

  1. I have to say I’m torn between the sweet satisfaction of having my very own car, the one I have chosen and I like in exactly this spec, and the possibility to have the right car for every occasion and probably trying out something new every now and then, just for my pleasure.

    I have just recently read in my newspaper about “car subscriptions” and the different providers that are available for it in Switzerland. I haven’t delved into the matter any further, so I have no idea how well this works in reality, and what it will cost at the end of the day – and how easy or troublesome it is to actually choose and change your car. But I’m quite sure I’d opt for a cheaper scheme and still keep at least one of my own, old cars.

  2. Think I’d always want my own car rather than just borrowing short term. I like to have my own creature comforts around me. That’s my I’m not keen on public transport either. 🤔🤣

    1. Much like electric cars, schemes like this will suit some people more than others. A close relative for instance, uses his car to commute a relatively short distance about three times a week, when he works off-site, but otherwise takes the underground into central London, where his office is situated. Therefore his car (purchased) is sitting idle for large amounts of time – even at weekends, steadily depreciating. A scheme like this therefore might provide a better mix of vehicles for the different needs.

      But. Two things: Cost and sentiment. Schemes such as this must offer a compelling saving over car ownership, (and not simply on depreciation alone) to make them attractive, because the sentiment attached to car ownership remains a considerable barrier in my view – even for those who would not fashion themselves as ‘car people’. Also convenience. The service would need to be seamless, and like the author above, I cannot see that happening – not in real world conditions. Not yet anyway.

    2. My understanding is that it’s so cold where you live you would be severely affected with hypothermia whilst standing at the bus stop…

  3. It is vital at this stage that the legislators and the public manage to preserve
    a modicum of mental awareness, that these trends generate an essential
    threat to the notion of private-owned property as a fundamental
    human right.

    If we accept that the right to own a private car is being silently taken away by tricky legislation (that, on second thought, does slowly evolve towards communism) then housing and land ownership will be
    the ‘next item on the menu’.

    Just say no.

  4. While we share a common disgust towards these car-pooling schemes, let’s not dismiss the reasons why manufacturers are experimenting with their introduction. I don’t think Toyota and co. believes that this “sharing economy” is fancy enough to attract newer generations to the idea of 4-wheelers. It’s because cars are getting increasingly more expensive, they will loose customers who thrive for a new car, but can’t afford it, so they try to offer it as a service instead. I was shocked when I saw the 2020 price tags of manufacturers that are well above their CO2 limit (here I refer to the new EU carbon tax for cars >95 g CO2/km). And that legislation is only half-introduced, the next price hike will come at 2021, and I think the EU also wants to make some expensive safety gadgets mandatory by 2022. Which translates to yet another price increase presumably well above inflation levels.
    This of course may not apply to all countries, but I’m sure Alonso’s fellow compatriots are already affected by the financial pressure. Seeing the rent price go up from 0,3 €/km to 0,4 €/km seems a lot less dire than to see the price of the new () jump from 20.000 € to 25.000.

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