In order to launch self- driving vehicles, Japanese automaker Toyota has joined hands with the ride- hailing app company Uber by investing a sum of $500 million in it. The self- driving vehicle will be launched by the companies by 2021, however the place of the launch has not been disclosed by them.
The company’s CEO Akio Toyoda’s recently announced that with transportation sector heading towards a revolution, Toyota’s future seems to be at a risk which seems to be the cause behind the company’s priority to deliver autonomous vehicles which led to the deal.
After a deadly crash the company’s self- driving vehicle system had been under doubt, a deal such as this will help Toyota reorient its strategy.
Toyota’s first investment in Uber was in 2016 when the two companies teamed up on vehicle leasing options. For deployment of Uber’s network, both Toyota and Uber will have its engineers merge their technologies.
Third party autonomous fleet operators will both own and operate the vehicles which will be Sienna minivans in the beginning. There have been several other partnerships recently preceeding this between traditional automakers and tech companies with the objective of developing self- driving vehicles such as General Motors’ investment in Lyft and Fiat Chrysler providing vehicles to Waymo, Google’s car company. While General Motors will begin by the late 2019, Waymo may start sooner.
After a fatal car crash of a woman by one of the test semi- autonomous vehicle in Arizona, Uber had to quit testing. Since this accident in March, the next course of action was being contemplated by Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. He called the deal first of its kind facilitating their commitment to deliver world- class technologies on the Uber network with safety.
Toyotas North America’s CEO Jim Lentz addressed the accident that happened in March by saying that self-driving cars will save lives however mistakes along the way are inevitable. He further added that tons of people are victims to accidents like the one in Arizona but at the same time self- driving cars can also prevent tens of thousands of fatal car accidents. It seems America is not ready to accept this situation which will slow down the demand for autonomous driving according to him.
Wall Street Journal reports the $500 million investment by Toyota has raised Uber’s value to $72 billion to which confirmation from Uber or comment from Toyota could not be obtained.