After suffering heavy losses and retreating from markets, including China and Russia, Uber says it is looking to build partnerships with automakers and taxi companies to establish itself in global markets. PAP photo by Will Oliver.
Uber CEO met with Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota on Thursday
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber Technologies, met with the President and Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corp. on Thursday to discuss joining forces to develop autonomous driving technology.
The meeting with Toyota officials is part of Uber’s plan to get autonomous vehicles systems operational and profitable. The company hopes to have autonomous vehicles on public streets within a year, according to Khosrowshahi. He made the comment while speaking at a media roundtable in New Delhi.
“In less than a year, autonomous vehicles will be on the road in our network,” he said in Delhi. “Much sooner than you would expect.”
So far, Uber and Toyota have not given out many details on their self-driving car collaboration. Both have been actively developing the technology separately and Toyota bought a stake in Uber in 2016.
Khosrowshahi is trying to put a number of embarrassing legal battles behind him and Uber. This month, the company settled a case with Alphabet Inc. for about $244 million after Alphabet accused Uber of using stolen trade secrets. As well, former CEO, Travis Kalanick resigned his position last summer after a number of employees and management officials faced sexual misconduct allegations.
Now, Uber’s CEO is meeting with Toyota’s President Akio Toyoda to show his commitment to developing the technology. Toyota is hoping the partnership will help it keep pace with rivals including Nissan, which is also working on a self-driving system.
“We have a very budding partnership with Toyota,” Bloomberg reports Khosrowshahi told investors at an event on Tuesday.
“We have to make sure we have access to leading autonomous technology. And that means having access to it in a timely manner. I do believe we can develop our own autonomous technology that we’re doing, and at the same time partner with other players in autonomous technology.”
According to Bloomberg, during his trip to Asia, Khosrowshahi emphasized his company isn’t scaling back its ambitions in certain regional markets, despite wide speculation of a retreat.
Khosrowshahi said Uber will continue to invest to become number one in Japan over the local rival, Ola. He added Uber is willing to work with Japanese taxi companies, however, Uber has less than 1 per cent market share in Japan’s $16 billion taxi market, and only offers limited service.
“It’s clear to me that we need to come in with partnership in mind,” Khosrowshahi said.
The company has been under pressure from SoftBank Group Corp., its biggest shareholder to focus on core markets. Uber has abandoned some markets, including China and Russia and is said to be considering selling its Southeast Asian business.