Toyota Motor to invest $500 million in Uber's self-driving technology

Toyota Motor 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 the industry.

As part of the accord announced Monday, Toyota plans to manufacture Sienna minivans loaded with Uber’s software, with testing slated to begin on Uber’s ride-sharing network in 2021. 

Toyota’s stake is set to value the ride-hailing company at $72 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. 

The 81-year-old manufacturer is accelerating a push to transform into a mobility-services provider, with Chief Executive Officer Akio Toyoda warning that a once-a-century paradigm shift in the industry has become a life-or-death battle for traditional automakers. 

Uber isn’t Toyota’s only investment in a ride-sharing company — it poured $1 billion into Southeast Asia’s Grab earlier this year and has a partnership with China’s Didi Chuxing. 

Toyota is also a backer of Japan Taxi, an Uber rival run by the chairman of Tokyo’s biggest taxi operator. Carmakers and technology companies alike are working toward a future where autonomous robo-taxis will lessen the need for individual car ownership.  The Toyota City-based company, which initially bought a small stake in Uber in 2016, is spreading its bets far and wide for a shot at these nascent technologies. 

Toyoda has said there are “no nautical charts for us to follow” in plotting the course to future mobility.

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