Toyota has formed a partnership with carsharing provider Getaround that could eventually find a place in commercial or government fleets that manage a portion of their vehicles as an in-house rental fleet, a company spokesman said.
Toyota is offering its Smart Key Box that enhances carsharing on Toyota's Mobility Services Platform by working independently of telematics hardware. The box is GPS enabled, according to Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman.
Toyota plans to offer business services such as vehicle management systems, leasing programs, and insurance with the platform. When the box is in place, users can lock and unlock doors and start the car's engine with the Getaround smartphone app.
With other carsharing services, users use shared keys via a vehicle's console box or a dedicated communication device that's connected with the Controller Area Network (CAN).
Toyota's partnership with Getaround will begin in January in San Francisco. Toyota's investment fund provided funding to the carsharing provider this month.
The program could find use in utility fleets or government fleets that operate rental fleets as part of their motor pools, Lyons said.
In a related move, Toyota Financial Services Corporation will develop a new financial product where a lessee is able to use the income generated from carsharing to pay for leasing charges. The aim is to increase the number of vehicles for sharing in a more convenient manner, and to attract new users to mobility services.
Toyota is considering using the platform for other mobility services in Japan such as unmanned rent-a-car businesses.