Cars are swiftly becoming more like tech products. That has its drawbacks, like software subscription fees coming to many vehicles shortly. But cribbing ideas for the tech world may also bring some exciting benefits. Toyota, for instance, is exploring incorporating one of Apple's best ideas.
You're probably familiar with Apple's refurbished products, where Apple restores products to "like new" status, testing and certifying them with a one-year warranty. Refurbishing makes a cyclically disposable industry like tech more sustainable, and it allows customers to save a significant chunk off buying a new laptop or iPad. Now, Toyota wants to do the same thing for cars.
Toyota GB told the website Autocar that it plans to start a refurbishment program at the brand's U.K. production facility. Essentially, Toyota would take back used cars from a typical two-to-three-year customer lease. They would restore the vehicle to like-new status. The process could even be performed a second time over a 10-year-cycle. The car could be sold again or join the fleet-based mobility services of the future.
Electric vehicles — remember, Toyota will have a veritable onslaught of them soon — should lend themselves well to that sort of refurbishment. Electric cars don't have the same myriad of mechanical parts that suffer wear and tear and need replacing. Current batteries are built to last; Toyota says the bZ4X batteries will still operate at up to 90% capacity after ten years. Their EV technology is likely to improve over the years, as well. And we'd expect Toyota's emphasis on quality, durability and reliability to carry over to electric cars.
As popular as sending your Taco back to its birthplace for a nip and tuck would undoubtedly become, whether this specific plan will come to America is unclear. But looking to the complete product life cycle and generating secondary and tertiary revenue sources — check out GM's new online used car dealership — should be something we see a lot of as manufacturers seek ways to offset EV costs.