Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What's Behind the Toyota Investment in Getaround

We're as used to seeing new Toyota cars in the news as we are seeing them on the streets around Van Nuys and here at the Keyes Toyota showroom. Every once in a while, the Toyota Motor Corporation finds new ways to make headlines. Early in 2016, the Toyota Research Institute, a dedicated R&D initiative, drew attention. A new round of articles in recent days says a lot about the company's future.

It's no secret that the traditional ways to keep a car, whether through ownership or through leasing, have declined over the last few years. In fact, John Zimmer, president of the ride-sharing company Lyft, raised eyebrows not too long ago when he predicted that car ownership as we know it would be phased out by 2025. We're not sure to what degree we agree with that, but it doesn't take the foresight of Isaac Asimov to realize that our relationship to cars is evolving in much the same way the vehicles themselves have.

The way the Toyota Motor Corporation is responding to those changes is interesting, not least because they stand not only to respond to the future but to actually shape it in this case. The Toyota-owned Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, which normally invests in research and development, pumped an estimated $10 million into Getaround, an up-and-coming ride-sharing service. The payoff for the investors is that Toyota now has a foothold in the rapidly growing ride-sharing economy.

Toyota cars, like the company that makes them, are steeped in tradition. However, both the cars and the company have evolved with the times, discarding some traditions and inventing others in order to stay relevant. The Toyota RAV4 (which invented the compact crossover) and the Toyota Prius (which made hybrids viable) are results of that approach.

We think it's a sensible approach. After all, when the future is unclear, wouldn't you rather be in the driver's seat instead of waiting to see what's next? With that in mind, see what all those years of research, development, and evolution have led up to. Come to the Keyes Toyota showroom at 5855 Van Nuys Blvd in Van Nuys, CA today for a test drive!

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