Friday, July 19, 2024

Toyota’s Acquisition Of Lyft’s Self-Driving Unit Bolsters Its Automation Ambitions

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) will acquire Lyft Inc’s (LYFT.O) self-driving technology unit for $550 million, the companies said, as the Japanese firm steps up its automation ambitions with the newly created Woven Planet division.

The acquisition of Level 5 automation will also provide Toyota access to the U.S. ride-hailing firm’s more than 300 employees of the essentially complete autonomy technology.

“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 told reporters on Tuesday.

It will also give Toyota a direct presence in Silicon Valley and London and expand smart-city project “Woven City” at the base of Japan’s Mt. Fuji, effectively helping it ride through dramatic changes expected in the mobility industry and major centres, he said.

For Lyft, the deal will allow it to become profitable sooner and takes away the burden and risk of developing a costly technology that has yet to enter the mainstream.

Kuffner said Woven Planet, which was set up in January, intends to continue investing and growing the team, although he refrained from commenting about any timeline or future acquisition plans.

Takaki Nakanishi, analyst and chief executive of the Nakanishi Research Institute, said by expanding partnerships, Toyota is “moving a step towards realizing its goals”, including self-driving technology.

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