Toyota Preferred: Used but not abused

An approved used car scheme by Inchcape Pre-owned lets buyers find second-hand Toyotas that have been spruced up and given a new warranty — for a fee.

SINGAPORE — Toyota Preferred officially opens its doors tomorrow, giving buyers a place to look for approved second-hand Toyotas.

The Toyota Preferred programme is being run by Inchcape Pre-owned, in turn part-owned by Inchcape Singapore, the distributor for Toyota, Lexus and Suzuki cars here, along with Hino trucks. It operates at Inchcape’s building at 2, Pandan Crescent.

The business is similar to Das Welt Auto, the approved used car outlet for Volkswagen cars in Singapore. As with that operation, Inchcape Pre-owned draws its stock from the used cars that people trade in when they buy new Toyotas.

From those, it aims to cherry-pick the best vehicles — generally, any car older than five years is sifted out, as are those with more than 20,000km a year on the odometer. That keeps cars that have had a hard life, such as former Uber cars, out of the programme.

The cars are graded and given a makeover by Inchcape’s Toyota workshop, then given a one-year warranty unless their original warranties have more than a year left to run. The top Grade “A” vehicles are meant to look as good as new.

A source told CarBuyer that customers pay a “2 to 3 percent premium to market prices” for Toyota Preferred cars.

Relatively few cars make it into the programme; hundreds of cars are traded in for new Toyotas every month, but Inchcape Pre-owned has around 70 or 80 cars on hand. These are stored on the eighth floor of the Inchcape building.

Cars from other brands are still offered for sale by Inchcape Pre-owned (as shown below), which has been in operation for more than two months.

The other partner in the business is Otopac Motors, itself a joint-venture between PhillipCapital (a financial assets brokerage), Binter & Co (a tyre distributor) and Ricardo Auto Centre (an integrated car business).

Approved used car schemes like Toyota Preferred are seen as a way for buyers to find something cheaper than new, but without the peril of navigating the wider used car market. For a fee, they outsource the task of sorting peaches from lemons to an established player such as Inchcape Singapore — its parent, Inchcape Plc, is the world’s biggest independent motor vehicle distributor and retailer.

For car companies, it offers an added revenue stream, both from the sale of a used car itself and from associated services such as financing, insurance and accessories. It keeps the workshop busy with sprucing the second hand cars up, too.

Indeed, in February Inchcape Singapore’s managing director Jasmmine Wong described used car retail as “low-hanging fruit” in the Business Times. Specifically, Toyota Preferred gives the company a way to make money twice on one Toyota. In other words, not only has the low-hanging fruit been plucked, it has turned out to be one from which Inchcape can take two bites.

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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.