Commentary

Toyota Dives Deeper Into Driverless Vehicles, Puts $500 Million On Uber

Consumers may not be clamoring for self-driving cars but the companies working on them are moving full steam ahead.

At CES in January, Toyota introduced its concept self-driving vehicle along with its intention of transforming Toyota from a car company to a mobility company. Toyota’s vision for future mobility involved self-driving, all-electric, ride-sharing vehicles using Toyota’s new concept vehicle.

A few months later, Toyota announced the formation of a new company called Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development, a venture in which Toyota, Aisin Seiko and Denso Corporation would invest $2.8 billion, with plans to add a staff of 1,000 employees.

Now Toyota is teaming with Uber to jointly create autonomous vehicles to be used by Uber’s ride-sharing services. To push this along, Toyota is investing $500 million in Uber.

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Like other autonomous vehicle creators, Toyota sees autonomous vehicles more as a service, as in “mobility as a service,” rather than a transformation of the auto business to become one of sellers of self-driving cars to individuals. As part of the new venture, Uber will supply its self-driving system to Toyota Sienna minivans, which will be owned and operated by a third party, a new business model for Uber.

The first “Autono-MaaS" (autonomous-mobility as a service) fleet will comprise Toyota’s Sienna Minivan platform, which will incorporate Uber’s autonomous driving system and Toyota Guardian’s automated safety support system.

Toyota is becoming well-positioned in the autonomous vehicle race, since it is headquartered in Japan with a global focus, with the best markets for early self-driving vehicles yet to be determined and which could well be in Asia. Baidu and Softbank already are working on creating autonomous mini-buses in geofenced locations in select Japanese cities.

The Toyota-Uber deal is just the latest announcement around autonomous vehicles.

For example, Ford, which recently detailed its vision for driverless vehicles  (Ford Details Its Approach To Self-Driving Cars: ‘Not For Everyone’), last month created Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, a new organization to accelerate its autonomous vehicles business. The automaker plans to invest $4 billion in the new venture.

Ford also is working on self-driving vehicles for Domino’s Pizza deliveries, Toyota’s concept vehicle could be used to deliver food and Boeing is working on creating pilotless aircraft.

Meanwhile, the majority (83%) of consumers expressed low or no interest in giving up control behind the wheel, based on a survey of 1,100 U.S. vehicle owners conducted by Esurance.

No matter, by the end of 2026, 21 million fully autonomous vehicles will be sold, according to a forecast by Juniper Research, which pegs Google as leading all manufacturers, followed by Volvo, Tesla, Daimler and Audi.

Now Toyota is looking to get on that list.

1 comment about "Toyota Dives Deeper Into Driverless Vehicles, Puts $500 Million On Uber".
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  1. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US , August 28, 2018 at 9:46 p.m.

    "Consumers may not be clamoring for self-driving cars but the companies working on them are moving full steam ahead."


    Let's see, the public is not looking for your new product, but let's move in that direction anyway, because we think we know that the public will want this.................
    can you say   NEW COKE??
          The only people who want these cars are the ones developing them, and some dilusional mass transit pipe dream that we're all going to give up our keys, stering wheel and sit in the back seat of a driverless car so we can  enjoy the many ways they want to bombard us with advertising.  
    Hey Toyota where's the half billion come from?  Because you're in bidness to make money,
    and NO ONE EVER TELLS us how much this tech-mess adds to the price of the 'ol ghost buster wagon.  The amount of people interested in this is less that half of your Prius market.   Could not give me a Prius.

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