Japan-based car making company Toyota announced on Monday that it is investing $500 million in ride-hailing giant Uber as the company aims to accelerate the development and deployment of self-driving vehicles.
Toyota said that said the partnership will involve the mass-production of autonomous vehicles that would be deployed on Uber’s ridesharing network. As per the deal, the two companies will incorporate self-driving technology into vehicles based on Toyota’s Sienna minivans. They are planning to begin piloting the program in 2021.
“This agreement and investment mark an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company as we help provide a path for safe and secure expansion of mobility services like ride-sharing,” Shigeki Tomoyama, the president of Toyota Connected Company, said in a statement.
As Uber leads the world in ridesharing, it would offer a ready market for Toyota self-driving cars through its app, which is used by millions of people around the world. Toyota has reportedly dubbed the platform “Autono-MaaS,” standing for “autonomous mobility as a service.”
The partnership announced on Monday isn’t the first such deal between the two companies. Back in January, during the International Consumer Electronics Show, Toyota and Uber announced e-Palette, an autonomous vehicle concept that could be used for everything from pizza delivery to ridesharing.
In March, Uber decided to cease its self-driving trials after a self-driving Uber SUV killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. After the incident, the ride-hailing giant has removed its autonomous cars from the road and closed its Arizona operations.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the investment values Uber at around $72 billion, despite its mounting losses. The car making company lost $659 million last quarter, marking a wider loss than its first-quarter figure. On Monday, Uber announced that it planned to focus more on its electric scooter and bike business in future, and less on cars.