BMW i's investment in Scoop Technologies is part of a $5.1 million seed round that included several other firms. It follows news that VW put $300 million into a service called GETT and that Toyota has partnered with Uber for ridesharing and leasing. There's also GM's $500 million investment in Lyft and its own car-sharing service, Maven. Automakers may soon run out of startups to pump money into. Oh, and don't forget about Apple's billion-dollar investment in Didi Chuxing, the Chinese Uber.
Scoop's app is designed to let commuters find each other and drive together to reduce traffic, something the Bay Area and California in general can benefit from; then there's the added bonus that packing more people into a car unlocks access to the carpool lane. Scoop also partners with employers, like Cisco, to help people that are all going to the same place get to and from work. Employers can subsidize the cost of the rides as a perk and to encourage the app's use. And because plans can change, there's a ride-home guarantee that will reimburse you for costs getting home if you find yourself stranded. The service launched in 2015 in Pleasanton, CA, and is still in a limited rollout that includes San Francisco, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and North San Jose.
It's not clear how or if BMW i will integrate the tech into its vehicles. This could just be an investment to get a foothold into a young ridesharing company, or it could be a sign that BMW wants to build the app's functionality into i cars.