By on February 22, 2018


Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says he expects the company to have its own autonomous cars within a year but, since the company doesn’t build cars, it needs to partner with one that does. Until now, the company has been in bed with Volvo Cars, previously stating its intention to purchase 24,000 self-driving XC90 SUVs from the brand between 2019 to 2021.

However, the relationship between the two firms isn’t exclusive or binding. That means Uber can still play the field, and may have already found a friend with benefits in Japan.

On Thursday, Khosrowshahi posted a photo on Twitter of himself laughing with Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda and Executive VP Shigeki Tomoyama at the automaker’s headquarters. “Having fun with Akio-San and Tomoyama-San @ToyotaMotorCorp HQ,” he wrote. “Great discussions about growing our #autonomous partnership and lessons 4 me in building a great culture. And yep, those are Ichiro [Suzuki’s] bats.”

It seems Toyota could be the side piece Uber is looking for. 

In addition to their shared love of baseball, President Toyoda green-lit the purchase a number of Uber shares in 2016. How much is unknown, as Toyota won’t disclose it. Until recently, Khosrowshahi only suggested that both companies are committed to developing self-driving vehicles for commercial profit and left it at that.

Bloomberg quotes him as being somewhat more forthcoming during a conference with investors on Tuesday.

“We have a very budding partnership with Toyota,” Khosrowshahi said. “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.”

During his overseas adventure, the CEO made it evident Uber has no interest in abandoning certain regional markets. While some markets have become unfavorable, even going to far as to put up barricades intended to stop the ride-hailing firm, it still wants to see a global expansion.

Japan is one of the markets Uber says it cannot lose, and the company plans to continue investing in the region to assure dominance. Khosrowshahi said the company will do what it takes to beat Ola (the Indian-based app-centric transport provider), including partnering with Japanese taxi firms. Despite currently holding less than one percent of the market, Uber has an ally. Japan’s SoftBank agreed to purchase $1 billion of fresh stock late last year and things appear to be looking up with Toyota.

“It’s clear to me that we need to come [into Japan] with partnership in mind,” Khosrowshahi in the midst of his trip through Asia.

[Image: Dara Khosrowshahi/Twitter]

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10 Comments on “Uber Technologies Is Getting Awfully Chummy With Toyota...”

  • avatar

    Age is finally catching up with Ichiro, one of the best hitters of all time.

  • avatar

    Maybe it’s the soft focus but the Japanese guys look great for being in their 60s.

  • avatar

    Life goes on. A man becomes preeminent, he’s expected to have enthusiasms. Enthusiasms… Enthusiasms… What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which gives me joy? [grabs a baseball bat] Baseball! A man stands alone at the plate. This is the time for what? For individual achievement. There he stands alone. But in the field, what? Part of a team. Teamwork…. Looks, throws, catches, hustles – part of one big team. Bats himself the live-long day, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and so on. If his team don’t field… what is he? You follow me? No one! Sunny day, the stands are full of fans. What does he have to say? “I’m goin’ out there for myself. But… I get nowhere unless the team wins.”

  • avatar

    This is the company that just gave a mass murderer a ride to school.

    I don’t really hold Uber liable, but in this era of poutrage, it’s curious no one seems to care.

  • avatar

    That photo has so much WTFery going on that it’s screaming for a caption contest.

  • avatar

    Let me drop Toyota/Lexus from my “would consider” list.. Do not want the “douchebaggery” upgrade..

  • avatar

    I noticed inconsistency with the application of the honorific “-san.” In one case he applied to the family name, and in the other to the given name. Unless one of those Toyota reps has flipped his given and family names, which the Japanese sometimes do in the West (since the family name comes first in most Asian cultures, but second in western cultures.)

    I mean, who really cares though…

  • avatar

    Changing Uber from a disruptive technology firm, to noting more than a “look at me I’m with famous people” establishment, relationships and privileges firm, will just render it irrelevant over time.

    Why the heck would the guys doing the driving, back end developing and ride hailing want to cut an army of clueless schmoozers and backroom dealers in, instead focusing on minimizing the spread between what the hailer pays, and what the driver, and developers, receive?

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