Toyota invests further in Uber as Tesla plans rideshare service

24 April 2019

24 April 2019

Toyota is to invest in a new Uber business division aimed at accelerating commercialisation of rideshare services.

Together with partners Denso and SoftBank Vision Fund (SVF), the Japanese carmaker will invest $1 billion (€892 million) in Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), according to a statement released by the company.

Under the terms, Toyota and DENSO will together invest $667 million (€595 million), and SVF will invest $333 million (€297 million), valuing the new Uber ATG entity at $7.25 billion (€6.5 billion) on a post-money basis.

Added investment

Toyota invested $500 million (€446 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. This latest investment and expanded partnership build upon the progress made to date, deepening the companies’ collaboration in designing and developing next-generation autonomous vehicle hardware.

It will also prepare the companies and industry for mass production and commercialisation of automated ridesharing vehicles and services. Toyota will also contribute up to an additional $300 million (€268 million) over the next three years to help cover the costs related to these activities.

′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,’ said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber. ′The development of automated driving technology will transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more liveable.’

′Toyota is dedicated to realising a safe and secure future mobility society. 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 commercialise safer, lower cost automated ridesharing vehicles and services,’ added Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota executive vice president.

The transaction is expected to close in Q3 2019.

Tesla taxi plans

Meanwhile, US electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla has suggested that it is pinning hopes of sustained profits on the building of a global network of fully self-driving robotaxis.

In a meeting with financial analysts, founder Elon Musk said Tesla would look to take a 25-30% cut of fares earned through its new network, which will use customer’s personal cars when they are not in use by the owner.

To build up a robot car service with enough vehicles to attract riders, Mr Musk said the company expected to supply vehicles itself to supplement private Tesla owners, at an estimated cost of $25,000 (€22,300) a car. ′We aim to be cash flow neutral during the fleet build-up phase,’ he said, before adding that Tesla would be ′extremely cash flow positive’ after that.

The company began shipping vehicles last month with computers that it said could handle full autonomous driving, based on the first AI chips it has designed in-house. By the end of this year, an over-the-air software update would complete the technology enhancement, and the company expected to assure itself that the driverless system is safe by the middle of next year, Musk said. That would make it possible to launch a robot taxi service before the end of 2020 if regulators agree.