Major automotive companies are lining up to invest in popular ride-sharing services, as Toyota announces a partnership with Uber, and Volkswagen invests in the popular European ridesharing startup Gett.
Volkswagen's $300 million investment in Gett is based on a joint growth strategy to expand on-demand mobility services in Europe. The company's goal is to generate a substantial share of sales revenue from such new business models by 2025.
Through the Gett app consumers can quickly book on-demand rides instantly or pre-book rides for later. The service is available in more than 60 cities worldwide, including London, Moscow, and New York City.
In London alone, half of all the black cabs use Gett, and the business model is based exclusively on licensed drivers who have a permit to carry passengers.
"Within the framework of our future Strategy 2025, the partnership with Gett marks the first milestone for the Volkswagen Group on the road to providing integrated mobility solutions that spotlight our customers and their mobility needs," Matthias Müller, chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, wrote in a May 25 statement.
Meanwhile, Toyota and Uber announced they have entered into a memorandum of understanding to explore collaboration, starting with trials in countries where ride-sharing is expanding.
The partnership will take various factors into account, such as regulations, business conditions, and customer needs, with the aim of establishing new services for customers.
[Find out how Google's Waze is getting into ride-sharing.]
As part of the agreement, Toyota Financial Services Corporation and Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership are making a strategic investment in Uber, though a specific figure was not disclosed.
Building on Uber's current Vehicle Solutions program, the companies will create new leasing options where car purchasers can lease their vehicles from Toyota Financial Services and cover their payments through earnings generated as Uber drivers.
The partnership will also see the establishment of a special fleet program to sell Toyota and Lexus vehicles to Uber drivers. The two companies are planning collaboration in a host of other areas, as in developing in-car apps that support Uber drivers.
The announcement follows Toyota's April decision to establish Toyota Connected, which will leverage the capabilities of data science through Microsoft's Azure cloud technology to develop predictive, contextual, and intuitive services.
The company is already providing a range of data and computer science services across Toyota's operations, including support for ongoing research into artificial intelligence and robotics and the Toyota Research Institute (TRI).
The creation of the TRI in Ann Arbor, Mich., also announced in April, specializes in self-driving vehicle tech. The new location joins existing TRI hubs in California and Massachusetts.
Despite the popularity of car-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, as well as the rise of programs like Zipcar and its competitors, a March survey by Kelly Blue Book indicated these programs (so far) pose no real threat to new car ownership.
According to the study, 80% of the respondents indicated that owning or leasing a vehicle provides a sense of freedom and independence. Among car-sharing and ride-sharing users, nearly three-quarters of them reported that they would be driving themselves sometime in the next six months.