Toyota and Volkswagen have become the latest carmarkers to invest in ride-sharing companies, tying up this week with Uber and Gett respectively.
The first of this week’s two deals will see Toyota and Uber strike a memorandum of understanding to “explore collaboration, starting with trials, in the world of ride-sharing in countries where ride-sharing is expanding”.
The partnership will see Toyota Financial Services and Toyota’s recently established Mirai Creation Investment fund with Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui make “a strategic investment in Uber”, though the amount was not disclosed.
Toyota appears to see Uber as a way to create fresh demand for new cars by offering new ways to finance them.
“Through this agreement on the trials, Toyota and Uber will accelerate further talks in aiming to establish new services and to offer new value to customers,” Toyota said.
“As part of today’s partnership, the companies will create new leasing options in which car purchasers can lease their vehicles from Toyota Financial Services and cover their payments through earnings generated as Uber drivers.
“The leasing period will be flexible and based on driver needs. This initiative builds on Uber’s current Vehicle Solutions program.”
The partnership is also expected to span the development of in-car apps that support Uber drivers, “sharing knowledge and accelerating their respective research efforts, and establishing a special fleet program to sell Toyota and Lexus vehicles to Uber drivers.”
The Volkswagen Group, meanwhile, has made a US$300 million ($415 million) strategic investment of its own into the lesser-known Israeli start-up Gett, which has presence in 60 cities worldwide.
“The ride-hailing market represents the greatest market potential in on-demand mobility, while creating the technological platform for developing tomorrow’s mobility business models,” Volkswagen said.
“The Volkswagen Group’s expressed goal is to generate a substantial share of sales revenue from such new business models by 2025.
“To this end, the Group is opening for new partnerships and strategic investments.”
Few details were immediately available on how Volkswagen specifically planned to engage with Gett.
However, the carmaker said its presence would help Gett “further strengthen its position in the market.”
“Based on a strategic alliance agreement, the partnership’s joint growth strategy is focused on collaborative development and market expansion of on-demand mobility services in Europe and beyond,” Volkswagen said.
Toyota and Volkswagen’s interest in the ride-sharing space comes six months after a similar move by General Motors, which made a US$500 million ($692 million) investment in another service, Lyft, in January.
GM has several plans to pursue through its alliance and investment.
They include the joint development of a “network of on-demand autonomous vehicles”, an arrangement where GM “will become a preferred provider of short-term use vehicles to Lyft drivers through rental hubs in various cities in the US”, and joint mobility offerings.