There’s nothing like the validation, aka a hefty investment, from a veteran company to help a startup fly. However, when the startup is the most valuable transportation startup in the world and the investment comes from the world’s largest auto manufacturer, it could mean a match made in heaven.
Uber and Toyota have entered into a “strategic partnership” which will allow Uber drivers to lease their vehicles from Toyota and cover their payments through earnings generated as Uber drivers. According to The Verge, the leasing period will be flexible and based on driver needs.
Furthermore, Toyota and Uber have agreed to conduct ride sharing trials in countries where the service has yet to launch. Toyota will also invest an undisclosed sum into the San Francisco-based startup.
This development further supports what many were beginning to suspect; automakers are embracing ride sharing with the intention to lead the initiative. As has been demonstrated recently with the self-driving car domino effect, these companies are eager to keep pace with the times to avoid being left behind.
Toyota’s investment is just one example. Apple recently invested $1 billion into Uber’s Chinese ride-sharing competitor, Didi. In addition, the German-based automaker Volkswagen made a $300 million investment into Gett, a ride-sharing company that has a presence in over 60 cities across the globe, including London, Moscow and New York.
In addition, General Motors recently invested $500 million into Uber’s hometown competitor, Lyft. However, this partnership specifically outlines the intention to develop a fleet of self-driving cars, whereas the Toyota-Uber partnership does not.
Regardless, Toyota has been proactive in preparing for self-driving cars. The Japanese company recently opened the Toyota Research Institute to develop artificial intelligence platforms for self-driving cars and smart home devices.
While Uber recently revealed a photograph of its first self-driving car prototype, alluding to a driverless ride-hailing service, it was unclear how a company that employs contractors to drive their own cars would obtain a fleet of autonomous vehicles. Toyota’s resources could potentially solve that problem.
As automakers around the world find their perfect ride-sharing matches, many outlets began to inquire as to why Uber remained unattached. It looks like all’s well that ends well as Uber and Toyota have found each other at last.
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