Toyota to invest about $500 million in Uber for driverless cars

GettyUber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

GettyUber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

A person briefed on the matter says Toyota will invest $500 million in ride-hailing service Uber, and the companies will jointly develop self-driving vehicles. The initial fleet, using Uber's self-driving auto system and Toyota's Guardian safety technology, will be based on Toyota's Sienna minivan platform. Under the agreement, Toyota vehicles will be equipped with Uber's self-driving technology, an unnamed source familiar with the deal told TechCrunch.

The companies anticipate that mass-produced autonomous vehicles will be owned and operated by third-party fleet operators, Toyota said. The partnership deepens an existing relationship and reflects CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's strategy of Uber developing autonomous vehicles through partnerships, rather than on its own.

The Japanese automaker will invest about USA $500 million (NZ $746m) in a deal that will value the ride-hailing company at $72 billion, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

In March, one of the company's self-driving test vehicles ran down a pedestrian on a dark street in Tempe, Arizona.

Nonetheless, Toyota has continued to stick with Uber since its initial investment in 2016.

Toyota and Uber are said to be partnering to develop self-driving vehicle technology, an area where Uber has struggled.

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Toyota's move into self-driving cars is imminent. Uber declined to comment on the deal.

Toyota has been less aggressive than some rivals on moving toward full-fledged autonomous driving. And a report in March said Uber was discussing selling self-driving tech to the company.

Toyota's progress in autonomous-vehicle technology has been lagging behind many other such programs.

Uber has admitted its technology lags Waymo, and the crash in Arizona was a further setback in development and testing. In another, Daimler AG will own and operate its own self-driving cars on Uber's network. If it fails, rivals with self-driving cars could offer rides at a lower cost. Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick had insisted on developing a proprietary self-driving system and called autonomous cars "existential" to Uber.

Previously, Uber and Toyota partnered on an electric mobility project. Uber has since shuttered its USA leasing business.

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