The Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has announced that it is entering into a partnership with Uber, the smartphone-based ride-sharing company. The partnership is a step for Toyota, one of the world’s leading auto makers, toward transforming from being a vehicle manufacturer, into an all-round mobility company.
Toyota and Uber have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore collaboration, starting with trials in the world of ride-sharing in countries where the concept is expanding, and taking various factors into account, such as regulations, business conditions, and customer needs. As part of the partnership, Toyota Financial Services Corporation and Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, a future technologies investment fund established by the SPARX Group, TMC and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, are making a strategic investment in Uber.
Against the backdrop of rapidly evolving car usage trends in recent years, the development of mobility services in new areas, including ride-sharing and car-sharing, has gathered pace on a global scale. Through this agreement on the trials, Toyota and Uber will accelerate further talks in aiming to establish new services, and to offer new value to customers. As part of the partnership, the companies will create new leasing options in which car purchasers can lease their vehicles from Toyota Financial Services and cover their payments through earnings generated as Uber drivers. The leasing period will be flexible and based on driver needs. This initiative builds on Uber’s current Vehicle Solutions program. The companies are also discussing the establishment of a special fleet program to sell Toyota and Lexus vehicles to Uber drivers. Toyota and Uber will also explore collaborations in a variety of other areas, such as developing in-car apps that support Uber drivers, sharing knowledge, and accelerating their respective research efforts, which could potentially include the development of autonomous cars.
“Ride-sharing has huge potential in terms of shaping the future of mobility. Through this collaboration with Uber, we would like to explore new ways of delivering secure, convenient and attractive mobility services to customers,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of TMC and president of the Connected Company, one of TMC’s recently created in-house companies.
Emil Michael, chief business officer of Uber, commented, “We’re excited that Toyota, the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, is making a strategic investment in Uber as part of a broader global partnership. Toyota vehicles are among the most popular cars on the Uber platform worldwide and we look forward to collaborating with Toyota in multiple ways going forward, starting with the expansion of our vehicle financing efforts.”