BREAKING: Toyota to invest $500M in Uber

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Toyota Motor Corp. TM +3.08% is set to invest about $500 million in Uber Technologies Inc. as part of an agreement by the two companies to work jointly on driverless-vehicle development, according to people familiar with the matter.

Toyota’s investment values Uber at about $72 billion, slightly higher than where SoftBank Group Corp. valued the ride-hailing company earlier this year with its funding. Both companies will jointly develop driverless vehicles as part of the investment, according to Dow Jones.

Uber has been seeking ways to lower development costs and losses in its autonomous-vehicle unit, especially after the fallout from a fatal crash involving one of its cars earlier this year in Arizona. They also shifted direction with their Uber Freight arm.

“At a high level we’ve been rethinking our self-driving efforts, we’ve made the decision to focus on cars because we don’t feel we need to immediately be developing self-driving trucks to remain competitive in the freight logistics space,” a spokesperson said. Instead, they’re currently focused on “building out the network first to ensure we have a viable place to put this technology.”

“Given that Uber Freight has been growing as rapidly as it has…we’re continuing to explore approaches to highway driving using the cars,” exploring new business opportunities, like self-driving trucks, in the future,” Uber stated.

The developing partnership comes after several years of collaborating in the space between the two companies. In September 2015, Toyota began to build out research and development centers at the MIT of Technology at Stanford. In March 2016, the company hired the 16-person staff of MIT’s Jaybridge Robotics to help it with its artificial intelligence efforts. The company, along with Uber, even put in a bid to pilot a self-driving car-hail program with the Singapore government, according to Recode. Toyota also previously invested in Uber in 2016 alongside an auto-leasing deal. And a report from March 2018 said Uber was discussing selling self-driving tech to the company, according to Business Insider.

The partnership is also seen as symbiotic, as it gives Toyota a huge research and development extension, while for Uber they’re able to bring their autonomous technology into mass production.

Neither organization could be reached for immediate comment.

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Chad Prevost

Chad is radio host and broadcast media specialist for FreightWaves.

One Comment

  1. That’s not good news for actual Uber drivers. There are so many Uber drivers in my area already, that it’s getting harder to keep busy. I have been driving for Uber for just over a year now, and I have noticed a decline in available rides, not due to a decline in riders, but due to a surge in the amount of drivers now working for the company. I’m sure I’m not the only full time Uber driver who has come to the realization that eventually it will be necessary to find a new line of work due to a flooding of the market with drivers, mainly because it’s a great job, and very easy to do. Let’s face it, you don’t need a degree, or to be a Rocket Scientist to do this job. These new driverless cars are going to kill the industry for people like myself who solely depend on this job to survive. Think about what this means for the future of transportation. As more and more drivers like myself are forced to find new jobs, because of this new technology, it will lead to more driverless cars on the roadways. Do we really want to be sharing the already over congested roads, and highways with cars driven by robots or ghosts?