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

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

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.

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.