Automakers have been scrambling to partner with tech firms to head off competition from self-driving cars and car sharing services that threaten to eventually trim demand for car ownership.

Toyota Motor Corp. on Friday said it has invested in U.S. car-sharing company Getaround, a move that comes as global automakers seek to shore up their presence in new technology sectors amid growing competition from transport startups.

The world's biggest-selling automaker confirmed in an email to Reuters that it has invested in the San Francisco-based start-up through its investment fund, Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, but declined to offer further details.

Earlier on Friday, Japan's Nikkei newspaper reported that Getaround was believed to have received around $10 million from the fund.

Established last year, the fund which also includes Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) as an investor, also invests in artificial intelligence and robotics.

Getaround has been operating its on-demand car-sharing service in San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C. and other U.S. cities since 2013. It claims to have more than 200,000 members.

Automakers have been scrambling to partner with tech firms to head off competition from self-driving cars and car sharing services that threaten to eventually trim demand for car ownership.

Toyota's investment follows similar moves this year by other automakers who have partnered with car sharing service providers, including General Motors Co. and Lyft Inc. and Volkswagen AG and Israel's Gett.

Toyota already has a partnership with Uber Technologies Inc., through which the automaker leases vehicles to Uber drivers, and plans to work with the ride-hailing service to accelerate mobile technology research.

Tesla Motors Inc.'s decision to equip all of its vehicles with self-driving hardware has intensified competition among rival camps of technology and auto companies over what equipment will be on board cars of the future.

Tesla's self-driving system will rely on cameras and radar sensors -- but not lidar, the laser imaging technology most other companies pursuing self-driving cars are using to generate precise pictures of the environment around their vehicles.

Tesla's self-driving system will rely on cameras and radar sensors -- but not lidar, the laser imaging technology most other companies pursuing self-driving cars are using to generate precise pictures of the environment around their vehicles.

Tesla also is not using technology from Mobileye, the Israeli-based supplier of computer vision chips and software that provided components for earlier Tesla models equipped with Autopilot, a semi-automated system designed to assist with driving but not replace the driver.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and Mobileye this summer engaged in a public dispute over the safety of Autopilot following a fatal crash in May in which the driver of a Tesla Model S was killed after hitting a truck while driving on Autopilot.

"As we move to a higher level of autonomy in vehicles, you're going to want to have more redundancy," which radar and lidar can provide, Dan Galves, senior vice president at vision safety system maker Mobileye, said in an interview. "The more sensors, the better."

No automaker, including Tesla, currently offers a fully self-driving car, although most major manufacturers and suppliers are working furiously on different technology suites -- including cameras, radar and lidar -- to enable vehicles to drive themselves.