Toyota to invest $500 million in Uber

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Two years ago, Toyota invested an undisclosed sum in Uber and the two companies partnered on a car-leasing program for Uber drivers.

In a short post, the head of Uber's Advanced Technologies Group confirmed they are working with Toyota to develop self-driving vehicles.

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Hans Greimel, Asia editor for the specialist Automotive News publication, said Toyota was "gearing up big-time for autonomous driving".

Toyota Motors is investing $500 million more in Uber Technologies, underscoring the Japanese automaker's efforts to catch up on self-driving technology as General Motors and Alphabet's Waymo lead the race to upend transportation with autonomous vehicles.

The deal gives Toyota a key partner in a field that is growing rapidly, and comes on the same day that four of the automaker's suppliers announced a partnership to develop some of the software underpinning autonomous vehicles.

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The investment round values Uber at $US72 billion ($98 billion), The Journal said. Toyota has also had a partnership earlier with Uber. The business alliances were created to focus on the development of the new e-Palette concept vehicle in the near term. The partnership deepens an existing relationship and reflects Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi's strategy of Uber developing autonomous vehicles through partnerships, rather than on its own.

By expanding into autonomous vehicles, Uber also hopes to ward off a looming competitive threat from another early investor, Google and its self-driving auto spin-off Waymo, which is poised to launch its own ride-hailing service in Arizona before the end of this year. Over that time, the company's share price has seen more ups and downs than a typical privately held company.

In March, one of the company's self-driving test vehicles ran down a pedestrian on a dark street in Tempe, Arizona. The self-driving unit is a significant contributor to Uber's losses, which in the second quarter were $891 million.

"Our expanded partnership with Toyota signals our commitment to deploying self-driving technology at scale for our riders around the globe", Uber's statement reads.

Toyota has stated that the initial "Autono-MaaS" (autonomous-mobility as a service) fleet will be based on Toyota's Sienna Minivan platform.

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