Toyota invests $500 million in Uber, expands self-driving car partnership

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Toyota is investing $500 million in Uber and expanding a partnership to work together on developing self-driving cars, the automaker announced on Monday.

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Toyota said the partnership aims to bring autonomous ride-sharing to market as a mobility service. Driverless technology from both companies will be integrated into Toyota vehicles, which will be used in Uber’s fleet. The initial fleet, using Uber’s self-driving car system and Toyota’s Guardian safety technology, will be based on Toyota’s Sienna minivan platform.

The companies anticipate that mass-produced autonomous vehicles will be owned and operated by third-party fleet operators, Toyota said.

“This agreement and investment marks 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 that includes Toyota vehicles and technologies,” Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota Connected Company, said in a statement.

The investment values Uber at $72 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Japan’s SoftBank invested $1.25 billion in the ride-hailing company earlier this year, giving Uber roughly the same valuation.

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Previous reports indicated that Uber executives have been debating the future of the company’s autonomous vehicle unit.

Uber suspended testing on public roads following a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona, in March. The company has also sought to reduce costs related to the venture. Earlier this year, Uber closed its self-driving car unit’s Arizona operations and laid off about 400 test drivers.