DALLAS -- Toyota said today it will conduct a pilot program on a smartphone-operated key with U.S. car-sharing company Getaround.
Toyota developed what it calls a smart key box that sits inside an auto and can unlock and enable the use of the car through a smartphone app.
The app would only allow users that have previously signed up for the shared-use car to operate it, providing a more secure way of lending and renting cars, Toyota said in a statement.
The pilot program will begin in January in San Francisco, Toyota said. The company provided a strategic investment in Getaround in October, the statement said, for an undisclosed amount.
Getaround is a peer-to-peer sharing service that allows private car owners to rent out their vehicles when they are not using them.
“Our goal at Getaround has always been to empower people to car-share everywhere,” said Sam Zaid, Getaround’s founder and CEO. “Toyota’s activities across mobility services opens up new opportunities.”
The pilot is part of a larger effort by Toyota, which is establishing a “mobility services platform” that can be used by mobility companies.
The platform has individual business functions like vehicle management systems and leasing programs, Toyota said.