Uber to Buy Self-Driving Volvos

Alfred Osborne
November 21, 2017

Volvo Cars said Monday it will sell tens of thousands of self-driving cars to Uber, which is expanding to become an operator and owner of its own auto fleet.

The non-binding framework deal could offer San Francisco-based Uber a way to overcome setbacks at its autonomous driving division in Silicon Valley's race to ideal self-driving systems.

A Volvo spokesman said it covered up to 24,000 cars.

Volvo said in a statement that it would provide the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company with its XC90 premium SUVs complete with autonomous driving technologies, from 2019 until 2021.

Industry analysts have termed the deal as the beginning of drastic paradigm shift in the autonomous vehicle industry, with a slew of collaborations anticipated among automobile companies and silicon-valley tech firms in the immediate future.

Combining Volvo's cars with Uber's self-driving system builds on their almost three-year relationship and comes as Uber's autonomous driving unit has been hit by a lawsuit over trade secrets and the departure of top talent.

Volvo XC90 T8 for Uber
Volvo XC90 T8 for Uber

Volvo's engineers have worked closely with their USA counterparts to develop the XC90 premium SUVs set to join Uber's fleet.

Uber has been working with third-party manufacturers of components to build hardware and software for autonomous cars, then worked with Volvo to help outfit the XC90 vehicles of the automaker with that technology.

Everything that Uber is doing now is about building self-driving vehicles at scale, says Jeff Miller the head of automotive alliances at Uber.

Uber was thrown into disarray earlier this year when Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew its licence to operate in the British capital due to concerns about public safety for passengers and the process of driver registration.

The non-binding framework deal builds on a relationship of almost three years between San Francisco-based Uber and the car-maker. "It's also a big commercial deal".

The two companies struck a deal in August 2016 to work closely together to develop the next generation of autonomous ride-sharing taxis. "Today's agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction", said Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo's chief executive.

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