Two key players in the Japanese automotive industry, Toyota Motor Corporation and DENSO Corporation, along with startup funder SoftBank Vision Fund (SVF), are to invest $1 billion in the advanced technologies division of ride-hailing giant Uber in a bid to speed up work on driverless cars.
The investment, in a newly-formed Advanced Technologies Group corporate entity, aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of automated ridesharing services.
Toyota and DENSO will together invest $667 million and SVF will invest $333 million, valuing the new Uber ATG entity at $7.25 billion.
Toyota invested $500 million in Uber in August 2018, when the two companies announced their intention to bring pilot-scale deployments of automated Toyota Sienna-based ridesharing vehicles to the Uber ridesharing network in 2021, leveraging the strengths of Uber ATG’s self-driving technology alongside Toyota’s in-house advanced safety support system.
The two companies said this further investment and expanded partnership builds upon the progress made to date, deepening their collaboration in designing and developing next-generation autonomous vehicle hardware. It will also prepare the companies and industry for mass production and commercialization of automated ridesharing vehicles and services.
Toyota will also contribute up to an additional $300 million over the next three years to help cover the costs related to these activities.
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber (pictured), said: “This investment and our strong partnership with the Toyota Group are a testament to the incredible work of our ATG team to date, and the exciting future ahead for this important project, alongside great partners. The development of automated driving technology will transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more livable. Today’s announcement, along with our ongoing OEM and supplier relationships, will help maintain Uber’s position at the forefront of that transformation.”
Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota executive vice-president and president of Toyota’s in-house Connected Company, said: “Leveraging the strengths of Uber ATG’s autonomous vehicle technology and service network and the Toyota Group’s vehicle control system technology, mass-production capability, and advanced safety support systems, will enable us to commercialize safer, lower cost automated ridesharing vehicles and services. We believe that the combined work of Toyota, DENSO, and Uber ATG on developing next-generation autonomous vehicle hardware will accelerate the timeline for and early success of automated ridesharing services.”
The transaction is expected to close in Q3 of calendar year 2019.