As Uber’s public stock offering (IPO) approaches, the company’s autonomous vehicle unit received a $1 billion investment.
The investment came from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank’s Vision Fund, car maker Toyota, and automotive component supplier Denso. SoftBank invested $333 million from its $100 billion Vision Fund, while Toyota’s and Denso’s investments combine to $667 million. The autonomous vehicle unit, called Advanced Technologies Group, is now valued at $7.25 billion. Advanced Technologies Group has locations in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.
This is not the first investment Toyota makes in Uber’s self-driving unit. Back in August 2018, Toyota invested $500 million to boost the self-driving efforts. On top of the investment, Toyota provided a fleet of Toyota Sienna’s for Uber to test its autonomous technology. Uber hopes to commercialize its autonomous unit as soon as 2021.
“This investment and our strong partnership with the Toyota Group are a testament to the incredible work of our ATG team to date, and the exciting future ahead for this important project, alongside great partners,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement. “The development of automated driving technology will transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more livable. Today’s announcement, along with our ongoing OEM and supplier relationships, will help maintain Uber’s position at the forefront of that transformation.”
The large investment will help Uber deal with the large loss that come with developing autonomous cars.
Since the autonomous unit was created in 2016, Uber has spent over a billion dollars on it. ATG, however, does not even bring in significant revenue for Uber. To this day, Uber is still not offering free rides in autonomous vehicles to passengers, unlike many of its competitors. This may be due to the fatal crash involving an Uber autonomous vehicle last year in Tempe, Arizona.
Advanced Technologies Group is now its own legal entity, but is still part of Uber financially. ATG will now form a board, of which six seats will be for Uber, one for SoftBank, and one for Toyota. Uber will name the current director of ATG, Eric Meyhofer, CEO. He will respond directly to the appointed board.
Uber is aware of the challenges it will continue to face in the path towards commercializing autonomous vehicles. “While we believe that autonomous vehicles present substantial opportunities, the development of such technology is expensive and time-consuming and may not be successful,” Uber warned in a public prospectus filed last week.