Uber inks deal with Volvo for fleet of self-driving cars

Volvo says it aims to be the "supplier of choice" for autonomous vehicles.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer on

Volvo has signed a deal with Uber to supply the ride-hailing company with tens of thousands of "autonomous driving compatible" vehicles between 2019 and 2021, the 90-year-old car company announced Monday.

The financial terms of the non-exclusive agreement were not disclosed. However, the massive deal, reportedly worth more than $1 billion for 24,000 vehicles, keeps Uber up to speed in the crowded race to bring self-driving vehicles to consumers.

"The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption," said Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson in a statement. "Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD ride-sharing service providers globally. Today's agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction."

Volvo and Uber first formed a partnership in August 2016. In recent years, carmakers and technology companies have formed a complicated web of alliances and rivalries as they attempt to gain an early foothold in the emerging self-driving car market.

Just two weeks ago, Alphabet-owned Waymo announced it's launching a pilot program to test driverless taxis in the Phoenix, Ariz., metro region.

Waymo also has a partnership with Lyft, Uber's chief rival, to test self-driving cars. At the same time, Lyft is working with GM, which invested $500 million in the company last year. GM plans to test its own self-driving car fleet after purchasing Waymo competitor Cruise Automation.

Meanwhile, Uber announced a self-driving car partnership with Daimler in January. Daimler then announced in April it was developing a self-driving taxi with Bosch.

Under the terms of the deal announced Monday, Volvo will supply Uber specifically with XC90 premium SUVs, developed with Volvo's modular, in-house developed Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). "The base vehicles incorporate all necessary safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies that are required for Uber to add its own self-driving technology," Volvo's announcement said.

Volvo is using the same base vechile to develop its own autonomous car strategy, with the aim of releasing its first fully autonomous car in 2021.

Efforts to roll out self-driving cars have certainly faced some setbacks. In March, Uber halted its self-driving vehicle tests in the US (conducted with cars developed with Volvo) following a collision in Arizona.

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