Toyota Invests $ 500 million in Uber in driverless car-pact

Toyota Motor

TM 2.87%

plans to spend about $ 500 million in Uber Technologies Inc. to invest as part of an agreement between the two companies to work together on the development of unmanned vehicles, according to people familiar with the case.

Toyota's investment appreciates Uber at about $ 72 billion, slightly higher than where

SoftBank Group

appreciated the rhythmic company earlier this year with its financing.

Uber and Toyota refused to comment.

Uber has been looking for ways to reduce development costs and losses in his autonomous vehicle unit after a fatal crash in which one of his cars was involved in Arizona earlier this year. Last year, the Uber division spent about $ 750 million on self-driving auto development before making cuts this year, according to people familiar with the issue.

In recent months, Uber has shut down its autonomous vehicles in Arizona and has fired about 400 test drivers, some of whom are retiring after a new training. Uber also took its self-driving vehicles off the road in the San Francisco Bay Area, Pittsburgh and Toronto while investigating the conditions of the Arizona crash.

Technologists believe that self-driving vehicles can significantly reduce travel time and save lives by eliminating human error.

For ritual interests such as Uber and Lyft Inc. development could reduce their biggest costs: paying human drivers. For car manufacturers like Toyota, the potential of self-driving cars for car sharing is a major challenge for an industry dominated by individual car ownership.

Toyota's investment is reminiscent of

General engines

$ 500 million bet at Lyft in early 2016 as part of a plan to jointly develop autonomous vehicles. That deal marked the first time that a major car manufacturer joined forces with a company that went on rides, and accelerated a confusing series of alliances between Detroit and Silicon Valley in a race to take a share in the future of personal transportation.

GM only a few months later in 2016 acquired startup Cruise Automation Inc., maker of a system for retrofitting existing vehicles with autonomous rolling software. That acquisition enabled GM to go its own way and become a competent competitor to Uber,


Waymo and others try to put cars without a driver on the street.

SoftBank & # 39; s Vision Fund, a major lender of Uber, bought a share of almost 20% in GM & # 39; s Cruise in June, as the car manufacturer plans to launch a robot ride service next year.

Last month,

Ford Motor

pulled out his self-driving car program into a subsidiary known as Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, to make it easier to attract external investors.


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

provides some vehicles that are used by the Waymo autonomous car program, and has joined

BMW Group



develop technology for a self-driving car by 2021. The car expects to launch autonomous vehicles itself at the beginning of next decade.

Toyota is not as quick to embrace autonomy as rivals like GM, but has recently moved quickly to support its research into self-steering capabilities. The Japanese company has set a target for the debut of an autonomous vehicle by 2020 and earlier this year, Toyota and two branches had reserved almost $ 3 billion for building software for such vehicles.

Write to Greg Bensinger on [email protected] and Chester Dawson on [email protected]

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