Bosch Acquires Ride-Sharing Startup SPLT
Should Uber and Lyft be worried?
As an auto-industry supplier Bosch is behind a lot of the technology that's supposed to help automakers and tech companies change that industry. But now Bosch is taking a more active role. It just bought Detroit-based ride-sharing startup SPLT (Splitting Fares Inc.), marking Bosch's first foray into territory dominated by the likes of Uber and Lyft.
SPLT was founded in 2015, and claims to have 140,000 users in the United States, Mexico, and Germany. Unlike most other ride-sharing services, SPLT is aimed specifically at commuters who travel the same route every day. Its app pairs people who are going to the same destination, calculates the fastest route, and, as the name suggests, lets riders split the fare like they would when sharing a cab.
Bosch noted that SPLT's method means riders never share a car with complete strangers, just coworkers. SPLT is basically an effort to make carpooling more attractive by wrapping the concept in a slick, app-based package. That puts SPLT in the same category as app-based carpooling service Hytch, which is currently partnering with Nissan, and Ford's Chariot, which uses vans to shuttle people around instead of conventional cars.
Services like these could be the next step beyond current ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. While having a car to yourself is certainly nice, it's not exactly the best way to reduce traffic. Uber and Lyft don't necessarily reduce the number of cars on the road, they just shift the responsibility of driving to someone else.
SPLT will operate independently as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bosch. The supplier did not elaborate any further on its plans for SPLT, but did say that it expects ridership to increase significantly over the next few years as commuters forsake their own cars for the convenience of sharing services. Bosch has shown some interest in self-driving cars, and considering that companies like Uber, Lyft, and Waymo are developing autonomous ride-sharing services, it wouldn't be surprising to see Bosch and SPLT head in that direction.