Toyota announced that it has entered into a new deal with Uber to broaden self-driving car development. The Japanese automaker is investing £387 million ($500 million) in the rideshare company.
“Mass Production” of Autonomous Cars
Toyota has announced that it is entering into a deal with Uber in which they will be expanding a partnership for joint autonomous car development. This will include an investment of £387 million by the Japanese automaker into the ride-hailing company.
Toyota explained that this will involve the “mass production” of self-driving vehicles. Those cars would then be deployed on the Uber rideshare network. Both firms see this deal as an opportunity to bring themselves up to a competitive level within the autonomous vehicle market.
Uber’s Value Rises
Another component of the deal is that it has improved Uber’s value to $72 billion. This, despite the company’s rising losses. It represents a 15 percent increase over the last investment it received back in May. That said, it matches a valuation from February 2018.
Both companies jointly issued a press release that stated that the autonomous vehicle technology they develop together will be worked into Toyota cars built for the purpose of use in Uber’s network.
The Uber fleet of self-driving vehicles will be based on the Sienna Minivan from Toyota. Pilot trials are slated to begin before the close of 2021.
Catching Up with Rivals
“This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company as we help provide a path for safe and secure expansion of mobility services like ride-sharing,” said Toyota Motor Corporation executive vice president Shigeki Tomoyama.
Both companies have been falling behind their rivals in the development of autonomous vehicles. At the same time Alphabet-owned Waymo has been moving ahead at full speed. Uber had been slowing its own trials of self-driving vehicles following a crash involving a fatality in March, which took place in Tempe, Arizona. The Uber autonomous SUV failed to operate as expected and killed a pedestrian. The company responded by withdrawing its self-driving cars from the road ad shut down its Arizona operations altogether.