Toyota, VW embrace ride-sharing services

Toyota partners with Uber; Volkswagen invests in Gett

Published: May 24, 2016, 6:30 PM
Updated: May 28, 2016, 2:14 PM

Gett ride-sharing app

Auto companies seem to be exploring alternatives to the historical marketing of new vehicles, with two of autodom’s giants exploring partnerships with companies heavy into the new age of on-demand mobility.

Toyota has announced a partnership with Uber to explore the burgeoning ride-sharing business in North America, while Volkswagen is partnering with Gett (formerly GetTaxi) which is big in European cities such as London and Moscow, and also New York.

Toyota and Uber have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore collaboration, starting with trials, with the thought of exploring undeveloped trends in order to provide new services and increase value to customers.

“Ridesharing has huge potential in terms of shaping the future of mobility,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation 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.”

Together the two companies will create new leasing options whereby new car owners can cover their payments through income derived as Uber drivers. Leasing options would be flexible and based on driver needs. The program works through Toyota Financial Services as an expansion of Uber’s current Vehicle Solutions program (which offers new car discounts and flexible leases).

“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.”

The two will also work to develop in-car apps that would support Uber drivers, and also to establish a special fleet program to sell Toyota and Lexus vehicles to Uber.

Toyota and Uber also will explore collaboration in a variety of other areas, such as developing 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.

Volkswagen, meanwhile, is investing $300 US for a significant stake in Gett, to capitalize on the growing on-demand mobility services industry in Europe. Unlike Uber, Gett’s business model (currently operating in 60 cities worldwide) is based exclusively on licensed drivers who have a permit to carry passengers.

Digitally integrated mobility services have a promise of strong growth and huge earnings in coming years, with apps that make on-demand car-booking easier showing the biggest promise. Volkswagen hopes to gain a big share of sales revenues in the industry by 2025.

“Alongside our pioneering role in the automotive business, we aim to become a world leading mobility provider by 2025,” explains Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management at Volkswagen. “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.”

The Israel-based Gett is a leading provider in the European ride-hailing market, and counts among its customers half of all London’s black cabs, and a significant number of NYC’s black car bookings. It has keyed in its growth in business circles with some 4,000 bookings by leading corporations worldwide.

“The Volkswagen Group and Gett is a great strategic partnership,” said Shahar Waiser, Gett’s founder and CEO. “The pay-per-ride domain is growing rapidly. In that context, Gett provides VW with the technology to expand beyond car ownership to on-demand mobility for consumers and businesses.”

As with Uber, Gett customers can book rides instantly through a mobile app or set up rides for later (such as insuring a quick ride home after a New Year’s Eve party). Gett’s technology leverages big data, predictive algorithms and artificial intelligence, creating what the company calls a more autonomous on-demand ride-booking operation.