Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Corporation, 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.” Under terms of the tie-up, Uber will integrate self-driving technology into Toyota Sienna minivans for use in Uber’s ride-hailing network, the companies said. The deal also values Uber at some $72bn. Last year, the Uber division spent about $750 million on self-driving car development before making cuts this year.
In recent months, Uber has closed its Arizona autonomous-vehicle operations and laid off about 400 test drivers, some of whom it will rehire after undergoing new training. Uber also has taken its self-driving vehicles off the roads in the San Francisco Bay Area, Pittsburgh and Toronto while investigators look into the circumstances of the Arizona crash. Toyota moved recently to bolster its research into self-driving capabilities. Toyota’s Uber investment indicates how serious it has become about autonomous vehicles. Uber hasn’t said yet when it will return fully-autonomous passenger cars to city streets for more testing.