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Toyota Motor Europe has established a Fuel Cell Business Group to oversee its regional hydrogen activities.

Based in Brussels, the group intends to “strengthen the business case for hydrogen and support its introduction into mobility and other fields, making it accessible to new commercial partners”.

The manufacturer said it planned to establish hydrogen “clusters” in European cities where local infrastructure supports fleet and mobility services. It claimed such moves would increase demand for the fuel, reduce costs and improve the viability of the infrastructure.

It added that, in addition to cars, trucks, buses, forklifts and generators were already powered by its hydrogen technology, while tests were underway for its application to boats and trains.

The move is part of the manufacturer’s broader initiatives to push hydrogen, which include the launch of the second generation of its Mirari fuel-cell sedan (the first was introduced in 2014).

The model is based on a new platform which is large enough to accommodate a third fuel tank, said to increase its range by 30% to around 400 miles, while the company is targeting a “10-fold increase in global Mirai sales”.

Earlier this month, the manufacturer also joined the Japan Hydrogen Association (JH2A), which promotes global collaboration and the formation of a hydrogen supply chain.

Thibault Paquet, director of the Fuel Cell Business Group, explained: “The benefits of hydrogen are clear. That’s why we expect our global sales of fuel cell systems to increase by a factor of 10 in the short term, and why we have dramatically increased our production capacity.”

Toyota’s Kinto mobility brand established

Alongside the news of Toyota’s new Fuel Cell Business Group, the manufacturer has launched Kinto Europe – an umbrella company for its existing and forthcoming mobility brands bearing the same name.

Based in Cologne, it is a joint venture between Toyota Motor Europe and Toyota Financial Services and will formally open in April 2021.

Kinto launched in the UK in January 2020, when Inchcape Fleet Solutions – which was purchased by Toyota in 2019 – adopted the name. A series of other mobility initiatives bearing the moniker have also appeared elsewhere in Europe.

A spokesperson for Toyota GB told Asset Finance International: “Since that brand launch [in the UK], the mobility teams within the different areas of the Toyota world – such as Toyota Financial Services, Toyota Motor Europe and Toyota Insurance Services – have been working together to synchronise a number of practical components.

“Now, the time is right to create a single organisation – not just a brand – to increase efficiency, look for further opportunities and cement Toyota’s global ambition to become a mobility company, rather than a car company.”

The brand already offers five services throughout Europe and plans to expand all of them. They are:

  • Kinto One: an “all-inclusive” leasing service that has been launched in seven European markets, with more due in 2021. Toyota described it as “an established mid-size player in the fleet management market, with a fleet of more than 100,000 vehicles”.
  • Kinto Share: a car sharing services with products geared to “corporate to public and residential customers”. It currently operates in Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Spain and Sweden and there are plans to roll it out to other markets and via the dealer network.
  • Kinto Flex: a short-term vehicle subscription service, offering access to Toyota and Lexus cars with a service and maintenance package.
  • Kinto Join: a corporate carpooling service “for employees to create their own private transportation network”. It exists in Norway and Italy and is also destined for the UK.
  • Kinto Go: “a multi-modal aggregator” which coordinates journey planning, public transport ticketing, parking, taxi services and events. It is established in Italy and tipped to expand.

Toyota’s dealer network will be involved in the programme and customers will be able to source Kinto services from retailers. The spokesperson continued: “Yes, our retailers will gradually become mobility service providers… we want to enable them to create new and additional revenue streams.

“This transition will not be mandatory across the board. Retailers can choose to take up different roles… according to their own set-up and location. Naturally, some Kinto services will prosper more in urban areas.”

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