Toyota will acquire Lyft’s self-driving division, Level 5, for US$550 million, in a move that would round out the capabilities of automated driving systems being developed by the Japanese car maker’s new subsidiary Woven Planet.
The deal between the Toyota and Lyft will also expand the footprint of Woven Planet beyond its Tokyo headquarters, with offices and engineering teams in Palo Alto, CA and London, UK.
Woven Planet is the expansion of the Toyota Research Institute - Advanced Development (TRI-AD), which started operating in January this year and is tasked to spearhead the automaker’s technology development in autonomous vehicles.
"This acquisition advances our mission to develop the safest mobility in the world at scale. The Woven Planet team, alongside the team of researchers at TRI, have already established a centre of excellence for software development and technology in the Toyota Group. Bringing Level 5's world-class engineers and experts into the fold―as well as additional technology resources―will allow us to have even greater speed and impact,” said James Kuffner, CEO, Woven Planet.
According to Toyota, the resulting combined "dream team" of approximately 1,200 will represent one of the most diverse, well-resourced and talented groups in mobility services.
Logan Green, CEO of Lyft said that the deal with Toyota takes the car-hailing company into the next phase of its journey.
"Lyft has spent nine years building a transportation network that is uniquely capable of scaling autonomous vehicles. This deal brings together the vision, talent, resources and commitment to advance clean, autonomous mobility on a global scale,” Green said.
Lyft will receive approximately US$550 million in cash, with US$200 million paid upfront subject to certain closing adjustments and US$350 million of payments over a five-year period.
Accelerating go-to-market journey
Besides the Level 5 acquisition, Woven Planet and Lyft have signed commercial agreements for utilisation of the Lyft system and fleet data to accelerate the safety and commercialisation of the automated-driving technology that Woven Planet will develop.
According to George Kellerman, head of investments and acquisitions at Woven Planet, the acquisition of Level 5 combines the innovative culture of Silicon Valley with Japanese craftsmanship to create the mobility solutions of the future.
“This acquisition significantly accelerates our ability to bring technology solutions forward with an influx of exceptional engineers and leading-edge technology. It also provides a solid foundation for international expansion and future hiring efforts in the world's strongest talent markets,” Kellerman said.
“We aim to become the centre of interconnected mobility systems, weaving together a variety of technologies and partnerships extending far beyond the automotive industry. This acquisition marks the first in a coordinated strategy to consolidate leading technologies and talent to help realise this vision,” he added.
Luc Vincent, executive vice president for autonomous technology at Lyft, said the deal will enable the Level 5 team to be better positioned to bring autonomous vehicles to market.
"As part of Woven Planet, we will be able to leverage exceptional automotive engineering expertise as well as the considerable resources of an iconic business, while continuing to move with the energy and speed of a start-up. It is exhilarating to be part of this new venture, expanding our mission and building the foundational technology that will support mobility and the smart cities of tomorrow,” Vincent said.