Extend My Ride
Signing the lease on a new car is exciting! You drive away with the fresh new car smell, shiny new paint, and the perfect interior, which will never be as clean again as it is in that moment. While you drive that car, time moves on until one day you realize time has truly flown by and your lease will be up soon. You know you can return the vehicle, purchase it, or even buy a new one if you want. Many customers enter in a new lease with a brand-new vehicle. Those options have traditionally been the only choices, but what if there was another choice entirely?
Extend My Ride (EMR) could be another option in the future. Currently, EMR is a pilot program created by Strategic Innovation (SI), a part of Toyota Financial Services (TFS). EMR is a contactless lease extension program designed to take care of Toyota customers and improve the end of lease experience. This is a customer directed process created to provide flexibility during the entire process.
EMR starts with putting the customer in touch with a dealer. The vehicle is inspected remotely, just like at the end of any lease. A new contract is entered into for three months, but it can be extended up to 4 times (up to 12 months total). Any extension is completed online or by phone keeping with the contactless approach. Customers also have payment flexibility not only with traditional methods, like checks, and debit cards, but also with credit cards as well.
The traditional end of lease process is not too different than what typically happens when turning in a leased vehicle. A traditional lease return is completed in person and does not include the contactless inspection offered with EMR. The decision must also be made in that moment if the vehicle is to be purchased, turned in and a new vehicle leased or purchased. SI wanted to see what could be done to improve upon this process to make it better, easier and more convenient for customers.
This pilot program started with 95 customers enrolling. A current EMR customer shared their experience with the program in a recent survey. “It's a very convenient way to extend the lease after it matures while waiting for a replacement vehicle. It was convenient for me and my family as we also had to move and knowing that we could extend our lease so easily helped us greatly!”
There are several reasons the EMR program would be appealing to Toyota customers. Some might not have realized their lease would be up and needed more time to explore their options. Some customers were waiting on the next model year to come out and others were looking for a vehicle with specifications, like color or options, that needed to be either ordered or located at another dealership. No matter the reason for extending a lease, EMR gave customers the flexibility and time to figure out their next vehicle.
SI has learned a lot from the EMR program. They have a better understanding of how they can integrate dealers into the end of lease process, and ways to make the process more customer friendly. This information, along with feedback from the customers, will be applied in the future to a lease extension program.