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Volkswagen Looks to Ride-Hailing Drivers as Its Next Customers

June 1, 2016, 5:49 PM UTC
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For decades, automakers could count on the fact that people need to get from Point A to Point B. Quite often, that means they’ll purchase a car to take care of that. But that’s no longer the case.

With the rapid rise of ride-hailing services, which now provide an alternative to car ownership, automakers are rethinking their business models. On Wednesday, the Volkswagen Group (VLKPF), the latest large car manufacturer to partner with a ride-hailing service with a $300 million investment in Israeli company Gett, shared more details about its plans to adapt to this new world.

As part of that, Volkswagen will work with Gett to provide its drivers with special purchase and financing deals for Volkswagen cars. The collaboration will start by targeting drivers in European countries like Germany, where Gett plans to debut its service during the first half of 2017, the companies said on Wednesday.

Gett, which unlike its rivals only works with licensed taxis and private cars, is currently available in 60 cities across Russia, Israel, the U.K., and New York City in the United States. Volkswagen says Gett’s existing operations will give it access to a pool of more than 50,000 drivers.

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The companies also said that they will “explore areas of cooperation involving autonomous driving,” though no additional details were offered. Last month, when Volkswagen announced its investment in Gett, the ride-hailing company told Fortune that it does “not have any specific self-driving car plans at this time,” likely meaning that there are no concrete plans other than a general interest.

Though Volkswagen has joined the bandwagon, its deal with Gett seems predictable and not too far along—at least in comparison to others. GM (GM) and U.S.-based ride-hailing company Lyft are already working on autonomous driving with a pilot to launch by the end of the year. They also debuted a car rental program for Lyft drivers already. Toyota and Uber unveiled a partnership last week, which will also involve providing Uber drivers with special prices and terms to procure Toyota cars, whose vehicles are already common among drivers.