TECH: Automakers Rush to Ride-Sharing

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Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are no longer seen as novel. They’re everywhere, and automakers are lining up to create alliances that ensure their vehicles will be the ones you call when you need a ride.

They’re doing this by investing heavily in ride-sharing companies and making it more attractive for drivers to lease and buy vehicles through that alliance. The most recent automaker to make a commitment is Toyota.

They invested an undisclosed amount to partner up with Uber. The investment includes leasing options for drivers if they choose Toyotas. Uber is worldwide, and this partnership will target countries where Uber is expanding. No word on whether this would include the US.

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This is the start of a plan that could see Uber drivers behind the wheels of fleets of Toyota and Lexus vehicles, which marks a big shift from how automakers once viewed ride-sharing. Finance companies have long been unwilling to lend to those who claim Uber as their main source of income. They don’t care if it’s secondary, but they didn’t want to see it as someone’s primary income source.

Toyota’s goal of making it easier for Uber drivers to lease their cars and even setting up whole fleets of their vehicles for Uber is a complete turnaround. Instead of shunning this new way of getting around, they’re embracing it as a part of our changing mobility needs.

It’s not just Toyota, either. GM is partnered with Lyft while Volkswagen is partnered with European ride-sharing company Gett. BMW staked its claim by investing in Scoop, which makes a mobile carpooling app. Everyone wants a piece of this pie.

The shift has a lot to do with our changing attitudes. When Uber was new and novel and a little bit weird, no one wanted to gamble on the idea really taking off. The safe move was to stay away and see how it would play out. Would people really be willing to hitch a ride with some guy they called through an app on their phone? Turns out the answer is a resounding yes.

Uber App

That leaves automakers with a huge opportunity. Creating partnerships with ride-sharing companies gives them the chance to get more of their cars on the road. It also gives them the opportunity to learn from the process rather than sitting idly on the sidelines watching it all unfold.

For automakers, it’s no longer just about selling cars; it’s about providing mobility services. Whether through a car you buy for personal use, a ride-sharing service, or an autonomous car, automakers are betting big on ride-sharing playing a huge part in the future of personal mobility.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin