Carmakers continue to look at the future of transportation and invest in alternatives to individual ownership: Toyota is the latest to make a bet on a mobility model espoused by a startup, with a strategic investment in SF-based car sharing provider Getaround. Toyota’s investment also comes with integration with Getaround’s platform on the technology and finance side, incentivizing Toyota car owners to participate.
Getaround allows car owners to rent out their own vehicles when they’re not in use, in order to decrease the amount of time they spend idle and help car owners use their vehicles to help offset the cost of owning them in the first place.
As part of the new strategic partnership, Toyota will offer new vehicles, beginning with premium Lexus cars, for rental via Getaround with completely keyless entry and driving via their smartphone. Then beginning in January 2017, Toyota’s financial services wing will let Toyota car lessees make payments on their vehicle directly from their Getaround earnings pool, eliminating a step between revenue generation and applying that to offsetting the cost of the car.
The tie-up between Toyota and Getaround is reminiscent of some other carmaker/startup partnerships, including GM and Lyft. It’s also similar to the model Tesla envisions for its future Tesla Network, wherein car owners will be able to rent out their vehicles on-demand when not in use. Tesla’s future car-sharing revolved around the use of self-driving versions of its car, however.
More and more, automakers are making a wide range of bets on what follows individual car ownership in terms of other models for mobility, especially in urban areas. Building direct support of car-sharing into the platform is a smart bet, as is incorporating it directly into the financing model, as Toyota has done here.
Getaround won TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield at Disrupt New York in 2011. Competition from companies including Turo, as well as major automakers like Tesla eyeing the business model, indicate the space will probably get more competitive or see consolidation as carmakers look to bring expertise in the area in-house.