Toyota and Denso team with Aurora on self-driving minivans

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DETROIT – Toyota and longtime partner Denso will partner with self-driving auto startup Aurora to develop and build autonomous minivans for ride-hailing networks, the companies said Tuesday.

The deal gives San Francisco-based Aurora a clearer path to profitability as it competes with Alphabet’s Waymo, General Motors’ majority shareholder Cruise and Argo AI, whose main investors are Ford and Volkswagen.

Toyota Sienna’s minivans will be equipped with Aurora’s self-driving system, with a test fleet to be deployed by the end of 2021. The plan is to deploy the vehicles in Uber Technologies’ fleets and those of unspecified other vehicles some time thereafter. businesses.

In December, Aurora said it bought Uber’s self-driving unit, the Advanced Technologies Group (Uber ATG), in a $ 4 billion deal, well below ATG’s previous valuation of $ 7.25 billion.

Toyota and Denso were investors in Uber ATG, along with the Japanese SoftBank Group. Toyota partnered with Uber ATG to develop a self-driving system for use on the Sienna, ATG executives said.

Aurora’s new agreement with Toyota and Denso builds on the previous partnership between the two Japanese companies and Uber ATG. Toyota remains an investor in Uber and has transferred its equity stake from ATG to Aurora as part of the transaction in December, according to a source familiar with the deal.

As part of the December deal involving ATG, Uber agreed to invest $ 400 million in Aurora, in a deal that values ‚Äč‚ÄčAurora at $ 10 billion. The two companies agreed to partner on self-driving vehicles for Uber’s ride delivery and food delivery networks.

Aurora said it will work with Denso to explore mass production of self-driving components and with Toyota to develop mobility services, including financing, insurance and maintenance.

Aurora also has a deal with heavy truck manufacturer PACCAR to develop self-driving systems for long-haul transportation.

Aurora had previously concluded development pacts with Volkswagen and Hyundai. VW eventually bought a significant stake in Argo, while Hyundai formed a joint venture called Motional with supplier Aptiv to develop self-driving vehicles for robotic taxi fleets.

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