TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp on Friday said it has invested in U.S. car sharing company Getaround, a move that comes as global automakers seek to shore up their presence in new technology sectors amid growing competition from transport startups.
The world’s biggest-selling automaker confirmed in an email to Reuters that it has invested in the San Francisco-based start-up through its investment fund, Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, but declined to offer further details.
Earlier on Friday, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported that Getaround was believed to have received around $10 million from the fund.
Established last year, the fund which also includes Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) as an investor, also invests in artificial intelligence and robotics.
Getaround has been operating its on-demand car-sharing service in San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., and other U.S. cities since 2013. It claims to have more than 200,000 members.
Automakers have been scrambling to partner with tech firms to head off competition from self-driving cars and car sharing services that threaten to eventually trim demand for car ownership.
Toyota’s investment follows similar moves this year by other automakers who have partnered with car sharing service providers, including General Motors Co and Lyft Inc, and Volkswagen AG VOWG_p.DE and Israel’s Gett.
Toyota already has a partnership with Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], through which the automaker leases vehicles to Uber drivers, and plans to work with the ride-hailing service to accelerate mobile technology.