Toyota Makes Car Sharing Accessible With Security Features | Auto Finance News

Toyota Eases Carshare Security Concerns With Keyless Entry

The smart key box allows drivers to dictate who has access to their vehicle. (Via Toyota)

The smart key box allows drivers to dictate who has access to their vehicle. (Via Toyota)

Toyota Motors is addressing one of the major concerns regarding mobility services — security — with the development of an installable keyless entry box, created through a partnership with the carshare service Getaround, announced earlier this week.

“Toyota’s new smart key box helps provide an additional layer of security to get around the existing system by taking the key out of the car,” Mohammed Al-Shawaf, head of business development at Getaround, told Auto Finance News.

It can be installed “without modification” and allows owners to dictate who has entry to the car by delegating access via a smartphone. Owners essentially send a code to the renter’s phone, which will grant access to the vehicle when the smartphone approaches. The code is verified via bluetooth and the renter can start and stop the engine via the app.

The companies hope the partnership, which begins with a limited 90-day pilot in San Francisco starting in January, will encourage more drivers to consider leasing a vehicle and include it in Getaround’s fleet, but owners have to trust that their vehicle is safe from theft first.  

“From our perspective the largest barrier to car sharing is really about adoption, and related to that is getting the word out,”  Al-Shawaf said. If consumers are worried a car renter is simply going to drive off with the vehicle and never come back, adoption rates will remain low, and  Al-Shawaf knows it. “We recognize it’s a really important thing to get right in order for us to accelerate car sharing in each of our cities.”

If Toyota is able to crack that security egg, it’s hoping to hook more consumers into lease deals that are supplemented by Getaround’s $500 average monthly payments for Prius owners. The newly announced Toyota mobility services platform connects with Toyota Smart Center, the Toyota Big Data Center, and financial services, in an effort to offer leasing options specifically suited for the Getaround program, the press release stated.

Getaround car owners use that $500 in different ways, but the plurality of them — 32% — use it to pay off car payments, a 2015 NYU study found. The study also found that 24% of vehicle owners used it to buy groceries and pay household bills, while 9% used the money to pay rent, which are all expenses that make for a more reliable borrower.

These consumers are also interested in using the extra cash to upgrade their vehicle and take on a higher monthly lease payment. The study found that 66% of Getaround owners reported they’d be more likely to get a hybrid or electric vehicle next lease cycle, thanks to the additional income.

There’s a large market at stake if Toyota can convince consumers it’s safe to surrender control of a vehicle for a few hours of the day while lessees watch a movie, go to work, or spend a lazy Sunday indoors.

 

Getaround previously offered, and continues to offer, a range of security features for Toyota and non Toyota vehicles, including real-time GPS, tamper protection, and the ability to disable the car remotely, but not while a trip is underway. But both companies are hoping the added security with Toyota’s smart key box will make consumers feel more secure in the process.

TFS was quick to point out this is just the beginning of the pilot and could still morph into something completely different based on the changing mobility services environment, Dan Langlois, general manager of Strategic Innovation at TFS, told AFN.

“It’s changing rapidly and Toyota wants to be there, we want to be there for our dealer consumers and our consumers out in the field,” Langlois said. “Everything we look at can be developed into different things.”

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