In a transaction made far from the usual automotive development centers, Toyota, Denso and SoftBank Vision Fund are expanding a “partnership to accelerate development and deployment of automated ridesharing services” by investing $1 billion in Uber Technologies Inc.’s Advanced Technologies Group (Uber ATG). The transaction is expected to close in Q3 of calendar year 2019.
The investment, in a newly formed ATG corporate entity, aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of automated ridesharing services. Under the terms, Toyota and DENSO will together invest $667 million and SVF will invest $333 million, valuing the new Uber ATG entity at $7.25 billion on a post-money basis.
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, using Uber ATG’s self-driving technology alongside the Toyota Guardian advanced safety support system.
The further investment and expanded partnership – without a vehicle in sight – builds upon “the progress made to date, deepening the companies’ collaboration in designing and developing next-generation autonomous vehicle hardware.”
The claim – echoed across the industry – is 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, said, “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 claimed, “Toyota Group’s vehicle control system technology, mass-production capability, and advanced safety support systems, such as Toyota Guardian, will enable us to commercialize safer, lower cost automated ridesharing vehicles and services.”
Hiroyuki Wakabayashi, executive vice president of DENSO said, “Among the biggest challenges facing automated driving, most lie in how to implement both the hardware and the software at scale.”
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