Volkswagen invests $300M in ride-hailing app Gett

Ronny Kerr · May 24, 2016 · Short URL:

Live in the UK, Russia, and Israel, Gett recently launched a black car service in New York City

Maybe the ridesharing wars are just beginning.

Gett, an on-demand black car and taxi app, today announced that it has secured a new $300 million investment from the Volkswagen Group. In total, Gett has raised a total of $520 million from investors, including Kreos Capital and Access Industries.

Less like Uber or Lyft and more like Flywheel, Gett is a free mobile app that lets you hail licensed cabs. In London, that means you're catching a ride with a licensed black cab (fully regulated by Transport for London) and paying the same rate you see on the meter. The company markets this by saying you’ll never pay for surge pricing.

The service also hails black cars in Manhattan.

Gett says it's currently live in 60 cities worldwide, though I could only find a few a couple dozen in the UK (London, Manchester, Liverpool), Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg), Israel (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem), and New York in the U.S. I’ve reached out to the city to confirm the full list of cities where it operates.

I’m also hoping to glean additional details about the partnership, which seem pretty sparse at the moment.

The new, substantial investment mirrors to some degree the $500 million General Motors poured into Lyft at the beginning of the year, which kicked off what has so far appeared to be a mutually beneficial partnership. Furthermore, Volkswagen’s investment gives the impression that the German automaker is hoping to move on from its calamitous scandal at the end of 2015.

Long story short: the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered that many VW cars with diesel engines had built-in software that allowed the system to detect when it was being tested, allowing it to cheat emissions tests.

The revelation sent Volkswagen’s stock tumbling. Already a downward trending slope through most of 2015, share prices tumbled from $38.03 in mid-September to $23.07 at the start of October. Probably thanks to a bevy of other factors, including the oil crash and general market cooldown throughout 2016, VW's stock has not yet fully recovered. Today it's at $30.59 per share, a 1.3 percent decrease since the start of the year.

Backing Gett allows VW to shift its focus (and the eyes of investors) to a new, potentially gargantuan market.

“Alongside our pioneering role in the automotive business, we aim to become a world leading mobility provider by 2025,” says Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (VW AG), in a prepared statement.

“The pay-per-ride domain is growing rapidly,” also said Gett founder and CEO Shahar Waiser, in a statement “In that context, Gett provides VW with the technology to expand beyond car ownership to on-demand mobility for consumers and businesses.”

In other words, more and more car companies seem to be realizing that, in the future, they won’t be selling cars to individuals anymore: instead, they’ll be selling to companies like Uber, Lyft, and Gett. It will be interesting to see if Gett and VW launch a program akin to Express Drive, a product of the Lyft-GM partnership that gives Lyft drivers access to GM cars so they can pick up rides.

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