In Japanese, the word “mottainai” describes the experience of regret when things are not used to their fullest. It’s a sentiment that underlies a unique new program launched by Toyota that aims to relieve a growing burden on car repair garages – while also reducing their carbon footprint.
The challenge for the automotive industry, and the many local mechanics that support it, is that it’s a lot more complicated to service a car than it used to be. The computerisation of vehicles, along with the switch from internal combustion engines to hybrid or all-electric motors, has greatly expanded the range of repairs mechanics need to be able to perform. Many require specialised, expensive equipment, dramatically upping the capital costs of outfitting a garage.
Toyota, which was founded in 1937, views these changes as a degree of upheaval that only occurs once a century. In response, the company decided to launch a platform called Mechacomi (the name blends “mechanics” and “communication”) that was commensurately bold. It allows used equipment and tools to be traded among car repair garages, reducing their costs and contributing to carbon neutrality.
Car repair garages brim with expensive, specialised equipment. These tools are essential to getting cars back on the road, but they’re not needed by every mechanic all the time. They’re also difficult to resell due to limited business networks, particularly in rural areas. Instead, unneeded tools often sit gathering dust and depreciating.
Mechacomi helps change the mindset of car repair garages from “discard” to “reuse” by offering a service that is good for both the shops and the environment. The platform, which Toyota rolled out in some regions of Japan in June, allows car repair garages to buy and sell unneeded equipment and tools directly from each other, as well as to consult with specialist service providers on the assessment and purchase of equipment.
But connecting buyers and sellers is not enough by itself to make the platform work. Sales of used equipment are high-value transactions between parties that might only interact a single time. This results in complex processes, including features like escrow and seller deposits, which limit systemic risk at the cost of increased transactional complexity.
To make Mechacomi hum, Toyota needed to figure out how to remove all this financial friction – and it decided to use Stripe Connect because of its ability to support a platform business requiring many-to-many sales and money flow management.
Well-connected cash flows
With Connect, Toyota was able to quickly set up the necessary escrow services and seller deposits. Toyota has also been able to easily develop bank transfer and credit card payment options to support the buying and selling preferences of its different user segments. Stripe assists Toyota in improving customer satisfaction with a dedicated support manager who conducts regular analysis and issues resolution assistance.
“Mechacomi is an important new initiative in Toyota's transformation into a mobility company. We need to continuously improve in order to eliminate customer dissatisfaction and ensure that our customers are satisfied with the service they receive. Stripe is a very reliable partner because they provide a service that allows us to introduce various payment patterns easily and quickly, and because of their extensive support,” said Tomoaki Nakatani of the Customer First Management Office of Toyota.