Toyota and Uber are reportedly in talks to begin a self-driving rideshare partnership.
In the world driverless cars, Toyota is seen as a bit timid, and possibly even a bit behind the curve. GM recently announced they’re going full-steam ahead with their driverless Cruise AV, which will begin production starting in 2019. Toyota has shown a few neat concept cars, has a few self-driving Lexuses (Lexi? Lexopodes?) but so far nothing they’re confident enough to begin production on.
That may be about to change if recent reports are to be believed. According to The Nikkei, a Japanese financial newspaper (by way of Reuters), Uber and Toyota execs are in talks to install Uber’s self-driving technology on a Toyota-made car.
The newspaper didn’t cite sources, but they said that it would likely be a Toyota minivan. If this is true, then we could be in store for the first Uber branded autonomous people-mover.
The Nikkei also noted that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi met with Toyota executives in the United States earlier in the week.
Toyota has not confirmed or denied their upcoming plans, but do admit that they are currently sharing technology with Uber. “We regularly exchange information about automated driving with Uber for some time now,” said a Toyota spokesperson.
Toyota is known to be a major investor in Uber, although they have declined to state how much their stake is. In addition, Uber drivers are given favorable lease options on Toyota cars.
Most of the major carmakers agree that the future of transportation will shift away from personal car ownership and more toward transportation as a privatized service. As real wages stagnate but the price of vehicles continue to rise, the revenue stream from vehicles will shift to ridesharing and micro-rentals, something that Uber is intimately familiar with.
Toyota is set to join a crowded market as GM, Volvo, and Daimler all invest heavily in driverless cars. Technology firms like Google are also set to shake up the market with their own driverless technologies. Whoever gets there first will be able to dictate terms to the other automakers on the future of the automotive market.