Toyota to start car hardware, software update service in Japan

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A Toyota logo is displayed at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

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TOKYO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) said on Tuesday it will launch a service next year offering customisation and updates for cars as customers increasingly hold on to their vehicles for longer.

The service, known as Kinto Factory, will start in late January and offer new safety features, refreshed interiors, and software upgrades to car computer systems.

Toyota is trying to transform itself from a maker and seller of cars to a more service-based "mobility company". The new service is part of Toyota's Kinto brand, launched in 2019 and offering car-sharing services.

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Kinto president Shinya Kodera told reporters that for the sake of sustainability, it's best for cars to be "used for a long time in a healthy condition and eventually collected and recycled".

The company would consider expanding its Kinto Factory service abroad, he added.

Kinto subscriptions, which offer flat-rate car leases and insurance, had increased to 28,000 by November from 1,200 at the launch two years ago, which Kodera described as "a little short of what we expected".

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Reporting Maki Shiraki and Rocky Swift; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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