Mr. Potato Head is Pleased: Toyota and Uber Join Forces

2016 Toyota Prius Four

We’re calling it “Tuber” because there’s something inherently faintly giggle-inducing about potatoes and yams. The deal that created the nickname, however, is much more serious. The San Francisco-based 800-pound gorilla of the ridesharing world and the giant radioactive moth of the automaking world have teamed up to experiment with mobility services and put Toyota vehicles in the hands of Uber’s drivers.

The memorandum of understanding includes trials in areas of the world where ridesharing is blowing up, as well as investments in Uber by Toyota Financial Services Corporation and Toyota, Mitsui Bank, and SPARX Group’s Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership fund. The main initial benefit to Uber’s drivers will be sweet lease deals on Toyota vehicles that can be covered by picking up fares. We’d expect to see many more Priuses utilized as Uber cars as a result of the deal.

On a broader level, the companies will work together on in-car apps specifically geared toward Uber drivers, as well as a fleet program to sell Toyota and Lexus vehicles to Uber. This comes hot on the heels of the company’s reported deal with Mercedes-Benz to buy 100,000 S-Classes and the formation of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, a group currently comprised of Uber, Lyft, Google, Ford, and Volvo. In short, it seems everybody wants a piece of Uber, and Uber, like Google and Facebook before it, wants a piece of all of us.

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