Lyft to sell self-driving unit to Toyota
United States ride-hailing service Lyft agreed to sell its autonomous driving division to a unit of Japan’s Toyota for US$550 million, the companies said on Monday.
The move follows a similar divestment from Uber last year, with ride-sharing firms focusing on core operations as they struggle during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Lyft operation known as Level 5 will be folded into Woven Planet Holdings, a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp, which will create a team of some 1,200 people working on self-driving technology in Japan, the US and Britain.
Lyft will receive some US$550 million in cash, with US$200 million paid up front and US$350 million over five years under the agreement.
“This acquisition advances our mission to develop the safest mobility in the world at scale,” said Woven Planet chief executive James Kuffner.
Lyft CEO Logan Green noted that the transaction “brings together the vision, talent, resources and commitment to advance clean, autonomous mobility on a global scale.”
The buyout marks Woven Planet’s first major deal, according to a statement.
The Toyota subsidiary, which began operation in early 2021, specializes in research and development in areas such as autonomous vehicles, robotics and smart cities.
Work on its flagship project, “Woven City,” was launched in February. The laboratory city, built on the site of a disused Toyota plant at the foot of Japan’s Mount Fuji, will enable technological development.
Both Lyft and Uber had been working on their own technology for autonomous cars, but have been hit hard by the slowdown in ride sharing.