Toyota, VW announce ride-hailing partnerships

Toyota, VW announce ride-hailing partnershipsTwo of the world’s top automakers on Tuesday invested in companies that specialize in services meant to replace traditional car ownership.

Toyota Motor Corp. said it will make a “strategic investment” and partner with Uber Technologies Inc. on a number of ridesharing services, while Volkswagen AG said it will invest $300 million in Europe-based Gett.

The moves follow General Motors Co.’s January announcement of a $500 million investment in Lyft. Ford Motor Co. offers a Zipcar-like car-sharing service in London, launched an Uber-like shuttle for employees in Dearborn and partnered with Bridj, a van service in Kansas City.

“Ridesharing has huge potential in terms of shaping the future of mobility,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of Toyota and president of the Connected Company, one of Toyota’s recently created in-house companies. “Through this collaboration with Uber, we would like to explore new ways of delivering secure, convenient and attractive mobility services to customers.”

The Toyota-Uber pact will include a new leasing option that will let Toyota owners pay off their leases through money they make as Uber drivers, a project that will launch in the second half of 2016. In the future, the two companies will work to develop in-car apps designed for Uber drivers; share research efforts; and provide a fleet of Toyotas and Lexus’ to the ride-hailing company.

As part of the partnership, Toyota Financial Services Corp. and Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership are making a “strategic investment” in the California ride-hailing service. A Toyota spokesman declined to offer an exact dollar figure.

“We’re excited that Toyota, the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, is making a strategic investment in Uber as part of a broader global partnership,” said Emil Michael, chief business officer of Uber. “Toyota vehicles are among the most popular cars on the Uber platform worldwide and we look forward to collaborating with Toyota in multiple ways going forward, starting with the expansion of our vehicle financing efforts.”

VW says its investment in ride-hailing service Gett will help it make more money. Executives are expected to release more details at a joint event scheduled for later this week.

Gett is available in more than 60 cities worldwide, including London, Moscow and New York. In London alone, half of all the black cabs use Gett, according to the company.

Users can download the Gett app to book on-demand rides instantly or prebook rides for later.

“Alongside our pioneering role in the automotive business, we aim to become a world-leading mobility provider by 2025,” Matthias Müller, chairman of Volkswagen, said in a statement. “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.”

Source: The Detroit News
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