Toyota is set to acquire Lyft’s self-driving technology unit for $550m, both companies confirmed today, as the Japanese firm pushes the pedal on its automation ambitions.
The carmaker will pay $200m cash upfront, with the remaining $350m paid over five years, gaining access to the US ride-hailing firm’s more than 300 employees.
The acquisition will also kick Toyota’s smart-city project, “Woven City”, into gear at the base of Japan’s Mt. Fuji. Meanwhile, giving the Japanese carmaker a direct presence in Silicon Valley and London.
“This is the first step of establishing and bringing together the people. Obviously building technology and product requires people, and that’s much what this acquisition is about,” Woven Planet chief executive, James Kuffner, said this morning.
For Lyft, the deal will allow it to boost profits and eases some of the burdens of developing pricey technology that has yet to enter the mainstream.
Kuffner added that Woven Planet, which was set up in January, has plans to continue investing and growing the team. A timeline or future acquisition plans are yet to be confirmed.
Toyota has been eyeing self-driving tech for some time, with stakes in China’s top ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing and Southeast Asia’s Grab.
The company also had a stake in the self-driving unit of Uber Technology but transferred the stake when Uber sold the unit in December to car startup Aurora.