Volkswagen is making a $300 million strategic investment in the ride-hailing app Gett, the startup announced on Tuesday.
The auto giant's minority investment comes as it attempts to move beyond a huge corporate crisis over emissions and launches a new mobility unit focused on new technology.
VW wants "to go beyond vehicle ownership," Gett CEO Shahar Waiser told Business Insider in a telephone interview.
An Israeli startup that launched in 2010, Get is a rival to Uber, with users able to hail a driver with an app.
Waiser said the company was profitable in some early markets but not overall. It has annual revenues of $500 million. It previously raised $220 million in venture capital, with VW's investment raising the total to $520 million. Waiser declined to comment on Gett's valuation.
It operates in 60 European cities along with New York City. The new funding will help accelerate expansion on the continent, Gett says.
Waiser also said Gett's technology — big data, predictive algorithms, and so on — could prove useful in the development of self-driving vehicles, but he stressed that Gett was not developing autonomous-vehicle technology.
Drivers who use Gett can stand to benefit from the deal: They will be offered terms on Volkswagen vehicles that are better than market rates, Waiser says. This could make the platform more attractive to potential drivers looking to get into the ride-hailing business.
The investment is also most likely in some way a necessity, as ride-hailing companies raise increasingly huge war chests in their battle for dominance. Uber has raised billions, and Didi Chuxing, a Chinese ride-hailing company, recently received a rare $1 billion investment from Apple.
VW isn't the first legacy auto company to invest in the ride-hailing business. Back in January, General Motors sank half a billion dollars into Lyft at a valuation of $5.5 billion (as part of a larger $1 billion Series F funding round).