Toyota Motor Corp. is investing $500 million in Uber Technologies Inc. as the OEM continues its efforts to become a true competitor in the autonomous vehicle space, the companies announced on Monday.
Uber will combine its autonomous driving system with Toyota’s Guardian technology, which uses sensors to help human drivers avoid accidents, according to a press release. Uber’s system will be built into Toyota’s Sienna minivans, which are set to be deployed on Uber’s ride-hailing network by 2021.
Toyota Motor and its captive finance arm Toyota Financial has taken an interest in the carshare and rideshare space with other ventures as well. Last week, carsharing app Getaround raised $300 million in funding led by investments by Toyota Motor Corp. In June, the OEM announced a $1 billion investment in the Southeast Asia mobility company Grab Holdings Inc. — the largest investment ever from an OEM into a ride-hailing startup.
Toyota Financial stepped into the autonomous space with the launch of a keyless carsharing technology pilot program through the Getaround partnership in January 2017 to see if it could enable car lessees to use the payments generated from Getaround to help pay their monthly bill. In April, Uber also partnered with Getaround to allow ride-hailing drivers access to car sharing.
For consumers who want their own car instead of a shared vehicle, Uber has a strategic partnership with startup subscription service Fair, which bought Uber’s Xchange Leasing portfolio in January. Toyota is following Daimler AG, which made its own investment into Uber to put Daimler’s self-driving cars in the ride-hailing network.
The deepening partnership between Toyota Motor and Uber is another strategic move by Uber’s Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi as he looks to develop autonomous vehicles through partnership rather than on its own.
Toyota in the past few months has clearly upped its investments into the self-driving and mobility space as competition mounts. For example, Waymo, a division of Google-parent company Alphabet, increased the size of its self-driving taxi fleet more than 100-fold with the order of 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans from Fiat Chrysler Auto in June.