Lyft, Uber’s top competitor in the U.S. has sold its self-driving car division, Level 5, to Toyota. The world’s largest car maker has reportedly agreed to pay $550 Million (approximately KES 59.3 Billion) in the deal.
Through its subsidiary, Woven Planet Holdings, Toyota has paid 200 million dollars in cash to Lyft upfront with the balance set to be cleared over 5 years. This deal, which will be closed in Q3 2021, will see Lyft follow in the footsteps of Uber. Last year, Uber sold its self-driving car division after it turned to be a cash cow. Lyft says that with the sale, they will also be saving $100Mn annually, bring the ride-hailing company closer to making a profit.
The Race To Self-Driving Cars
Both Lyft and Uber had been pursuing self-driving cars with the hope of switching their taxi services to autonomous cars at some point in the future. Actually, Lyft was so ambitious when they launched Level 5 back in 2017 that they claimed a majority of their customer rides would be in self-driving cars by 2021.
This new investment brings Toyota’s future plans into perspective. Until now, the carmaker has been awfully quiet on their future plans. It’s not until the other day that the company teased its first electric vehicle. We do know that the company has been making significant investments in autonomous car tech and Toyota had planned to pilot some of the self-driving tech during the 2020 Olympics but that did not come to pass.
Reports indicate that Toyota has developed a self-driving software called “Chauffeur”. Toyota also has a second product dubbed “Guardian”, which is technically an advanced driver-assist system similar to Tesla’s Autopilot. Unfortunately, none of these are available on any Toyota production car today.