This week, BMW, Toyota and Volkswagen made big investments in transportation apps.
Volkswagen invested $300 million in Gett, BMW took part in a fundraising round undertaken by carpool app Scoop, and Toyota said it is making a strategic investment in Uber.
BMW i Ventures invested in Scoop, creators of a carpooling app focused on commuters. It formed part of a $5.1 million fundraising round, through which the app maker wants to extend “to even more cities, more employers, and more commuters.”
Scoop launched in August 2015, and the firm claims commuters have taken more than 40,000 trips via the app, offsetting nearly 500,000 in commute mileage for riders.
Launched in Pleasanton, California, Scoop now operates trips into San Francisco, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and North San Jose.
It partners with employers including Microsoft, Cisco and Airbnb, and also works with local governments to offer employees an “affordable and effective” transportation solution.
Scoop’s partners employ more than 200,000 commuters in the Bay Area.
The app connects co-workers who live in the same neighbourhood and travel to the same work area. Commuters select each trip one way at a time, and choose whether to ride or drive. Scoop’s algorithm matches them for the most efficient commute.
“Scoop’s carpooling offer is a great help for urban traffic and parking problems in cities, but it also enables employers in finding and supporting sustainable transportation solutions for their employees,” said Ulrich Quay, head of BMW i Ventures.
Scoop is likely to give competition to Google’s Waze, which is testing out a carpooling app also in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Toyota said that together with Mirai Creation Investment it is making a strategic investment in Uber, which includes letting drivers lease their vehicles from the car maker and make payments through earnings generated by Uber.
The leasing period will be flexible and based on driver needs. This initiative builds on Uber’s current Vehicle Solutions programme.
The two firms will also develop in-car apps that support Uber drivers, share knowledge, accelerate research efforts, and establish a fleet program to sell Toyota and Lexus vehicles to Uber drivers.
As for Volkswagen, it said investing in Gett is part of its ambitions to become “a world leading mobility provider” by 2025.
Gett will use the funds to strengthen its position in the market and the two will work to expand on-demand mobility services in Europe “and beyond”.
The move comes one month after Volkswagen announced plans to launch a legally independent company for the development of mobility services.
According to Matthias Muller, chairman: “Within the framework of our 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.”