TOKYO – Toyota has acquired the self-driving division of US ride-hailing company Lyft for $ 550 million, a move that underscores the Japanese automaker’s ambitions in that technology.
The acquisition, announced Tuesday, was carried out by Woven Planet Holdings, a Toyota subsidiary that launched in January that focuses on innovations and investments in projects such as ‘smart cities’, robotics and automated driving.
The payment will be $ 200 million upfront and $ 350 million over five years, according to Toyota.
The Woven Planet project will bring together engineers and researchers in mobility services, software and sensor assets, and automated driving systems to further develop the technology, Toyota said.
“This deal will be key in bringing together the people, resources and infrastructure that will help us transform the world we live in through mobility technologies that can create a happier and safer future for all of us,” said James Chief Executive of Woven Planet. Kuffner.
Woven Planet and Lyft also signed commercial agreements to use the Lyft system and fleet data to accelerate the commercialization of the technology.
Toyota also said the deal means Woven Planet will have Tokyo, Palo Alto, California and London as locations.
A centerpiece of Woven Planet is Woven City, which recently held a groundbreaking ceremony in Japan to build a community of intelligent homes, autonomous vehicles and other mobility products for Toyota’s employees and other people.
“Woven Planet is committed to its mission to combine Silicon Valley’s innovative culture with world-renowned Japanese craftsmanship to create the mobility solutions of the future,” said George Kellerman, who oversees investments at Woven Planet.
All of the world’s top car manufacturers are working on technology to make vehicles smarter, cleaner and more connected. Founded in 2012, Lyft provides a ride sharing and rental network.
Also Tuesday, Toyota announced that it will partner with Japanese automakers Suzuki Motor Corp., which makes small cars, along with Subaru Corp., Daihatsu Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. to the next generation of vehicle communication equipment.
Despite the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, Toyota has been relatively resilient and continues to invest in clean emissions technology, including electric vehicles, fuel cells and hybrids, robotics and other innovations.
But the advent of such technology is a challenge for vintage cars like Toyota, as newcomers can emerge as leaders in a totally new game.
“Who will be the economic winners in all of this? Automotive companies around the world are standing up for the future disruption, ”wrote Daniel Yergin, vice president of IHS Markit, in a recent comment.
“Toyota is turning itself into a ‘mobility company’. Volkswagen moves on and now bills itself as a ‘software-driven mobility supplier’. But the big beneficiaries could well be companies that don’t yet exist. “