Toyota Motor Corporation will acquire Lyft’s self-driving unit, an announcement confirmed yesterday. The cost of the deal is $550 million, and Toyota’s new Woven Planet division that will handle the Japanese company’s automation ambitions.
Lyft will receive $200 million in cash from Toyota upfront, and the remaining $350 million of the deal will be paid over the next five years. “The transaction is also expected to remove $100 million of annualized non-GAAP operating expenses on a net basis – primarily from reduced R&D spend – which will accelerate Lyft’s path to Adjusted EBITDA profitability,” Lyft said in a press release.
Toyota will not only acquire the self-driving unit, but the deal will also provide the automaker with Lyft’s 300 employees.
“Not only will this transaction allow Lyft to focus on advancing our leading Autonomous platform and transportation network, this partnership will help pull in our profitability timeline,” John Zimmer, Co-Founder and President of Lyft said. “Assuming the transaction closes within the expected timeframe and the COVID recovery continues, we are confident that we can achieve Adjusted EBITDA profitability in the third quarter of this year.”
Woven Planet Chief Executive James Kuffner told reporters on Tuesday, “This is the first step of establishing and bringing together the people. Obviously, building technology and product requires people, and that’s much what this acquisition is about.” Kuffner is likely referencing to the presence in Silicon Valley and London that Woven Planet will now have because of the acquisition. The partnership and could alleviate the issues that come with the acquisition of a new company.
Lyft’s advantages in the acquisition allow it to take a profit away from the development of self-driving technologies. Lyft hasn’t released its self-driving tech, which is aimed toward complete automation, known as Level 5 autonomy, but it can give the rest of the tasks to Toyota while walking away with a hefty profit.
Meanwhile, Toyota gains more experience and expertise in the self-driving sector through the acquisition. Toyota has Level 2 automation with advanced driver assistance tech. Level 2 describes “Partial Driving Automation” through Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. “The vehicle can perform steering and acceleration. The human still monitors all tasks and can take control at any time,” according to Synopsys‘ breakdown of automation levels.
Kuffner says that Woven Planet will continue investing and growing its team but did not give any further details about acquisition plans or a timeline that would describe possible moves in the future. According to Reuters‘ coverage of the acquisition, Toyota will “likely make more deals, even if they do not ultimately lead to self-driving vehicles to ‘actively gather software and people who have knowledge.'” This is according to Seiji Sugiura, a Senior Analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.
The transaction is expected to close in Q3 2021 and will be subjected to required regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.