Toyota invests $500 million in Uber

Toyota just placed a big bet on ride sharing and on autonomous vehicles.

The automaker announced on Monday that it is investing $500 million in Uber and working more closely with the company to accelerate the development and deployment of self-driving vehicles. Uber plans to retrofit Toyota Sienna minivans with its autonomous technology and begin real-world testing in 2021.

The deal gives Toyota a key partner in a field that is growing rapidly, and comes on the same day that four of the automaker's suppliers announced a partnership to develop some of the software underpinning autonomous vehicles.

"This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company," Shigeki Tomoyama, the president of Toyota Connected Company, said in a statement.

Automakers and tech companies continue scrambling to position themselves for a future in which car ownership gives way to mobility as a service. That's led to a growing number of partnerships as companies like Toyota realize they don't know much about ridesharing and companies like Uber discover that building cars is hard.

Other tech and auto companies have forged similar arrangements. Waymo, for example, buys vehicles from Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover.

"We're seeing marriages of companies of complementary abilities," said Brian Collie of Boston Consulting Group. "Partnerships are quite necessary and create value toward bringing mobility as a service to the market faster."

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