Toyota on Tuesday announced it is making a “strategic investment” in ride-hailing company Uber and looking into ways to collaborate with the ride-sharing app, including offering auto leases to the company’s drivers.
The partnership will start with trials, Toyota said. The new leasing options will allow Uber drivers to lease their vehicles from Toyota and cover their payments through their generated earnings.
The two companies also plan to develop in-car apps that support Uber drivers, advance research efforts and launch a “special fleet program” to sell Toyota and Lexus vehicles to Uber.
“Ridesharing 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,” Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of Toyota, said in a statement.
Toyota Motor Corporation TM, +1.09% announced the investment in Uber Tuesday, along with a partnership to develop in-car apps and start a leasing program. With the leasing program, car buyers can lease a vehicle from Toyota and make payments based on earnings made as an Uber driver, according to the release.
Toyota’s investment follows a Volkswagen VLKAY, +1.68% investment in Gett, a ride-hailing competitor, also announced Tuesday, as well as a previous investment by General Motors Co. GM, +1.50% in Lyft. Toyota made the investment with Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Toyota may need Uber more than Uber needs Toyota’s money. Last week, we reported that Apple made an investment into China’s Didi Chuxing. Didi is the dominant player in Chia, with 87% of the market. It is valued at more than $25 billion.
Over the past few years, Toyota’s profits have soared, but analysts thing the dream ride is may be coming to an end. A little more than two years ago, on 10 February 2014, Toyota announced it would close its vehicle and engine manufacturing in Australia in 2017. GM and Ford are also closing their Australian manufacturing plants, even though they had been receiving massive government subsidies.