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Automaker Toyota today announced that it’s investing an unspecified amount of money in app-enabled alternative cab service Uber — through Toyota Financial Services and Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership — and also partnering with the startup around ridesharing.
“The companies have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore collaboration, starting with trials, in the world of ridesharing in countries where ridesharing is expanding, taking various factors into account such as regulations, business conditions, and customer needs,” Toyota said in a statement.
According to the statement, there will be new ways to lease Toyotas and then earn money to cover their monthly payments by driving for Uber, and Uber will buy new Toyotas and Lexuses. But also, the two companies will be “sharing knowledge and accelerating their respective research efforts.”
The two companies are very different but have some overlap.
Uber, which currently relies on human drivers to take passengers around, is working on an autonomous vehicle, while Toyota has begun artificial intelligence (AI) research in collaboration with MIT and Stanford University for helping humans drive more safely.
Elsewhere, earlier this month Google said it’s working with Fiat Chrysler to deliver self-driving minivans.
Tesla, meanwhile, is reported to be working with South Korean company to Mando to extend its self-driving capability.
Earlier today it was announced that VW has invested $300 million in smaller Uber competitor Gett.
“Toyota is a global leader in the automotive industry, and Toyota vehicles are among the most popular cars on the Uber platform worldwide. We are proud to partner with Toyota in a variety of ways, including the expansion of our vehicle financing program,” an Uber spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.
San Francisco-based Uber is believed to be the most valuable privately held company in the world. At the end of 2015, its valuation was reported to be $62.5 billion.
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