Toyota Becomes Uber’s Latest Investor and Business Partner

May 24, 2016, 8:15 PM UTC
Uber logo on a vehicle near Union Square in San Francisco, California
The Uber logo is seen on a vehicle near Union Square in San Francisco, California, U.S. May 7, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo - RTX2C0YV
Robert Galbraith — Reuters

If GM’s investment in Lyft and Volkswagen’s in Gett weren’t enough, Toyota is now an investor in ride-hailing service Uber.

The companies said on Tuesday that they “have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore collaboration, starting with trials, in the world of ridesharing in countries where ridesharing is expanding,” according to a statement from both companies. Additionally, Toyota Financial Services Corporation, a subsidiary of Toyota, and Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, a fund in which Toyota is an investor, will invest an undisclosed amount in Uber, the companies said.

As part of the partnership, Toyota and Uber will develop car leasing programs for Uber’s drivers, with Toyota Financial Services providing financing to drivers. The terms of the leases will be flexible, similarly to Uber’s existing Vehicle Solutions car leasing program, according to the statement.

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“Toyota vehicles are among the most popular cars on the Uber platform worldwide and we look forward to collaborating with Toyota in multiple ways going forward, starting with the expansion of our vehicle financing efforts,” added Uber chief business officer Emil Michael.

Additionally, Uber and Toyota plan to collaborate on technology projects that could include developing in-car apps for Uber’s drivers, as well as “sharing knowledge and accelerating their respective research efforts”—a vague description that could include autonomous driving technology, an area of interest for both companies. Fortune has contacted Uber for more details and will update this story if we hear more.

Toyota could also sell Toyota and Lexus cars to Uber drivers, according to the company’s statement.

Tuesday’s announcement comes at a critical time for Uber, whose competitors have been linking up with large automakers. In January, General Motors revealed a $500 million investment in Lyft, along with a partnership to eventually use GM’s driverless cars as part of Lyft’s ride-hailing service. Earlier on Tuesday, Volkswagen announced a $300 million investment in Gett, an Israeli ride-hailing service that users taxis and black cars. But the biggest investment in a ride-hailing company so far is Apple’s $1 billion check earlier this month to Didi Chuxing, Uber’s biggest rival in China and an ally of Lyft.

Due to a mistake in the companies’ statement, an earlier version of the story said that Toyota could potential sell cars to Uber. The story has been updated to reflect that it will sell cars to Uber’s drivers.

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