Uber and Toyota are teaming up, and it could shake up the car industry.
Toyota announced Tuesday it will be entering into a memorandum of understanding with Uber, the ride-sharing company, and the companies will explore how they can collaborate. Toyota will also be investing in Uber.
The agreement will make it possible for Uber drivers to lease Toyotas and directly pay for the lease through their driving income.
“Ridesharing has huge potential in terms of shaping the future of mobility. Through this collaboration with Uber, we would like to explore new ways of delivering secure, convenient and attractive mobility services to customers,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation.
Toyota recognizes that the auto industry is changing, and ride-sharing is a significant part of that change. The companies will explore the best ways they can work together for mutual benefits.
“We’re excited that Toyota, the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, is making a strategic investment in Uber as part of a broader global partnership. Toyota vehicles are among the most popular cars on the Uber platform worldwide and we look forward to collaborating with Toyota in multiple ways going forward, starting with the expansion of our vehicle financing efforts,” said Emil Michael, chief business officer of Uber.
Uber is currently the most valuable tech startup in the world, according to The Verge, and Toyota could be an important partner to have as Uber considers how it will pursue its interests in using self-driving cars in the future.
Toyota has been investing large sums in researching self-driving car technology, and Uber announced in February that it was opening an Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh to closely study self-driving car technology, according to The Verge. Uber’s Pittsburgh facility has temporary roads for testing self-driving projects, and the company has hired many of the top experts in the field.
Uber isn’t the only ride-sharing company teaming up with large automakers to prepare for future projects and business model changes.
Volkswagen also announced Tuesday it is investing $300 million into the European ride-sharing company Gett. Gett is seen as a rival to Uber in Europe, according to Forbes.
“Alongside our pioneering role in the automotive business, we aim to become a world leading mobility provider by 2025,” VW Chairman Matthias Müller said in a statement. “Within the framework of our future Strategy 2025, the partnership with Gett marks the first milestone for the Volkswagen Group on the road to providing integrated mobility solutions that spotlight our customers and their mobility needs.”
Furthermore, General Motors made a $500 million investment in the ride-sharing service Lyft in January, according to Forbes. Lyft has a smaller market share than Uber in the United States, but the company is still competing. Lyft is also interested in integrating self-driving car technology into its business, and General Motors has been researching how to best implement self-driving car technology.
Companies like Tesla, Apple, and Google will be the major competitors as older automobile companies try to be the first to make self-driving cars a reality for customers.
“Longer term, there are elements that GM is focused on and parts that Lyft is focused on,” Lyft President John Zimmer told Forbes. “There’s software that powers the self driving car, software that connects the consumer, lots of different elements that we’ll plug in together and provide the ultimate experience.”
Uber and Toyota joining the slew of ride-sharing companies that are teaming up with major automobile manufacturers cements the idea that ride-sharing is here to stay, at least for now. As these companies research self-driving car technology, each new investment brings us closer to making it a reality.
[Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images]