Days after Toyota announced it would follow in the footsteps of other carmakers like BMW and General Motors by investing in the car-sharing game, we’re learning a bit more about what the company plans to do with its new stake in San Francisco-based Getaround. Here’s a hint: it doesn’t involve keys.
That’s because the carmaker will use part of its $10 million investment to test a system — dubbed Smart Key Box — that allows users to unlock and start Getaround vehicles with just their smartphones, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Under the system, users of Getaround will receive codes on their smartphone that will provide access to the smart key box inside the car-sharing vehicle. When a user gets close to the car, the codes will be verified via Bluetooth.
Tests of the Smart Key Box, expected to start in San Francisco in January, will be functional only on Lexus and Toyota Prius models made available on Getaround, a spokesperson for the carmaker says.
Unlike other car-sharing services like Zipcar, Getaround is a true peer-to-peer car-sharing service that allows owners of vehicles to essentially rent their cars to others using the service. The cost, generally around $5/hour, is then split between the service and the car’s actual owners.
Toyota says that it is working on a system that would allow owners of vehicles send car-sharing income to Toyota Financial Services to make payments, the Detroit Free Press reports. So essentially, this could serve as a way for the carmaker to sell or lease more vehicles.
Toyota to test peer-to-peer car-sharing system that doesn’t use keys [Detroit Free Press]
by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist