Toyota said this week it is making an investment in Uber. It is the latest auto manufacturer to put money into a ride sharing service. Earlier this year, General Motors invested a half billion dollars in Lyft, the ride sharing competitor to Uber. On Tuesday, Volkswagen announced it will make a $300 million investment in Gett, a small ride sharing service. Also this week, Ford chairman Bill Ford said his company is looking at opportunities in the marketplace that go beyond merely selling cars. “You’ll hear more from us,” later this year, he promised.
Toyota says its investment will be modest. Essentially, it is looking to establish a marketing association in which people who want to drive for Uber can lease a Toyota and pay for it from their monthly earnings. Presumably, Uber will deduct the payment from their earnings and remit the proper amount directly to Toyota.
“Ride-sharing has huge potential in terms of shaping the future of mobility. Through this collaboration with Uber, we would like to explore new ways of delivering secure, convenient and attractive mobility services to customers,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of Toyota Motor Corp. and president of the Connected Company, one of Toyota’s recently created in-house companies.
Toyota is not looking to take control of Uber. Instead, it is interested in learning more about ride sharing and how it may affect the business of selling automobiles in the future. The two companies expect to begin offering the new leasing option in the latter part of this year, said Toyota spokesperson Keisuke Kirimoto. “We realize that this collaboration has potential, but we want to start it out as a pilot project,” Kirimoto said. “We want to explore and then see what will be possible.”
According to Bloomberg, the new program will begin in countries where ride sharing is expanding. The two companies will also collaborate on the development of apps that support Uber drivers.
Earlier this month, Apple announced that it will invest $1 billion in Didi Chuxing, a Chinese ride hailing service. Some people think that is a signal Apple is gearing up to build a car for the Chinese market, but most observers believe is it more of a political move meant to mollify the Chinese government. Apple has suffered some business defeats in China recently and may be looking for ways to curry favor with the powers that be.
Elon Musk and Tesla may be disrupting the car making industry, but Uber and Lyft are disrupting the car selling industry. Many analysts think car ownership will decline in popularity in coming years, leaving auto makers with the need to find other ways to sell their products.
Source and photo credit: Automotive News