Uber Technologies, the ride-hailing startup, announced on Thursday (Sept. 6) that it is launching a taxi-hailing app in Nagoya as it aims to expand in a country where its services aren't in operation.
According to a report in Reuters, citing Uber, the service will be for taxis operating in Nagoya, which is near the Toyota Motors headquarters. In August, Toyota announced it is investing $500 million in Uber so the two can work together to develop self-driving cars. Uber said it is working with Fuji Taxi Group, which has been in the region for more than 60 years. Reuters noted that last year, Uber launched a similar taxi-hailing app test in Awaji, an island in Japan that has around 150,000 residents.
In late August, The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that Toyota's investment puts Uber's value at around $72 billion, which is higher than the SoftBank gave the ride-hailing company earlier in 2018.
As part of the deal, Uber’s self-driving technology will be implemented in Toyota Sienna minivans that will be used by Uber drivers. The cars could be owned and operated by fleet managers outside of Uber, noted the report.
The deal comes as Uber has been looking for ways to lower costs in its self-driving car unit and reduce the losses after a fatal Arizona crash this year. Before making reductions, it has spent around $750 million on autonomous car development, noted the report. The company has recently let go of about 400 test drivers and shuttered its Arizona self-driving business. It also took its cars off the road in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto amid investigations into the Arizona crash.
According to the report, Toyota's investment in Uber is similar to General Motor’s investment in Lyft back in 2016 when it, too, committed $500 million to a ride-hailing company to jointly make self-driving vehicles. That was the first time a car manufacturer and a ride-hailing company inked a partnership.