TOKYO – Toyota Motor Corp. has acquired the self-driving division of American ride-hailing company Lyft for $550 million, in a move that highlights the Japanese automaker's ambitions in that tech.
The acquisition, announced Tuesday, was carried out by Woven Planet Holdings, a Toyota subsidiary that began business in January and focuses on innovations and investment in projects such as “smart cities,” robotics and automated driving.
Of the payment, $200 million will be paid up front, and $350 million during a five-year period, according to Toyota. It said the Woven Planet project will bring together engineers and researchers in mobility services, software and sensor assets and automated driving systems.
“This deal will be key in weaving together the people, resources, and infrastructure that will help us to transform the world we live in through mobility technologies that can bring about a happier, safer future for us all,” said James Kuffner, Woven Planet chief executive.
Woven Planet and Lyft signed commercial agreements to use the Lyft system and fleet data to speed up commercialization of the technology.
Toyota said the deal will mean Woven Planet will have Tokyo; Palo Alto, California; and London as locations.
A centerpiece of Woven Planet is the Woven City, which held a groundbreaking in Japan recently, to build a community showcasing intelligent homes, autonomous vehicles and other mobility products.
“Woven Planet is driving towards its mission to combine the innovative culture of Silicon Valley with world-renowned Japanese craftsmanship to create the mobility solutions of the future,” said George Kellerman, who oversees investments at Woven Planet.
All the world's top automakers are working on technology to make vehicles smarter, cleaner and more connected. Lyft, founded in 2012, offers a ride-sharing and rental network.