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2019 March
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Car and Driver: Everybody’s Doing It: Volkswagen Invests $300 Million in Ride-Sharing Service

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2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

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Forget words like “synergy” and “paradigm”—this is 2016, people! Buzzwords have moved on, and automakers are keen to leverage them and appear poised to reap future rewards by blurting out keywords such as “mobility,” “Big Data,” and “global” and then dropping a ton of cash into a ride-sharing or car-sharing service. Volkswagen is the latest into the fray, following General Motors’ investment in Lyft and subsequent launch of the Maven car-sharing apparatus, as well as Toyota’s investment in Uber. VW just announced it’s making a $300 million investment in Gett, formerly known as GetTaxi.

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As you’d expect from Gett’s taxi roots, it is a ride-hailing service along lines similar to Uber and Lyft. Haven’t heard of Gett, yet? That’s because it is European—say that in a fancy voice—where it competes with Uber for “share of mind.” According to Volkswagen, Gett operates in 60 cities worldwide, including New York, and it is growing. VW leans heavily on buzzwords in explaining the decision:

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“Innovative, digitally integrated services covering all aspects of mobility promise very strong growth momentum and huge earnings opportunities in the coming years. The ride-hailing market represents the greatest market potential in on-demand mobility, while creating the technological platform for developing tomorrow’s mobility business models. The Volkswagen Group’s expressed goal is to generate a substantial share of sales revenue from such new business models by 2025.”

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In all seriousness, getting its foot in a ride-sharing service’s door makes sense for VW—or any manufacturer, really—even if the move serves only as a diversification of its current investments. And Gett isn’t just any old ride-sharing “get;” as VW points out, the service  uses only those drivers who are licensed to carry passengers (a not-subtle dig at the relatively open-door driver policies at Uber and Lyft), a neat distinguishing feature. More details from the partnership, as Volkswagen is calling it, will drop in the future, but for now, the automaker promises that the tie-up is “based on a joint growth strategy to expand on-demand mobility services in Europe.” There is no word yet what the investment could mean for U.S. Gett users.

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