Reports indicate that Uber Technologies is considering selling its driverless car technology to Toyota. According to sources the two firms are in discussions to have the automated driving technology of Uber fitted in one of Toyota’s minivan models. The sources added that the chief executive officer of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, has held meetings with executives of the Japanese automaker.
Toyota is already developing its own driverless car technology but has indicated that it is willing to partner with other companies in order to hasten the speed at which the new mobility technologies are introduced into the market. Uber and Toyota already have a partnership on autonomous car and ride hailing systems.
Across the globe tech firms and carmakers are racing to come up with autonomous vehicles as the traditional model of the personal transportation business which has involved individual car ownership stands to be disrupted.
Uber’s self-driving car efforts have been seen it test its prototypes in the U.S. The ride-hailing service has mainly used Volvo cars as well as some from Daimler. Earlier in the year Toyota indicated that it was partnering with Uber in developing autonomous car systems focusing on parcel delivery and ride hailing. Toyota has invested in Uber and also lease its cars to Uber drivers.
This comes at a time when Uber is experimenting with a service known as UberFlash in Hong Kong in a bid to win over Hong Kong’s disgruntled taxi drivers. The service matches users of Uber with either private cars or taxis. The UberFlash service has been well received in Bangkok, Thailand and Singapore and the ride-hailing service hopes to replicate the same in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong market
According to the director of research, economics and public policy at Uber, Damian Kassabgi, the UberFlash would be attractive to the taxi industry in the city state and it was a perfect example that demonstrated how Uber and taxis could co-exist in harmony.
“We are actively looking at Hong Kong to understand the taxi market and taxi companies. We’d be willing to partner with taxi companies in Hong Kong. This is something that we are actively doing at the moment,” said Kassabgi.
In Hong Kong Uber has struggled to make headway. The city state has a population of more than seven million which is served by approximately 18,000 licensed taxis operated by around 40,000 drivers. Taxi operators pay about $892,000 per license. Ride sharing in Hong Kong is illegal but Uber has around 30,000 drivers that have signed up to offer its ride-hailing service.