Uber and Toyota confirm strategic investment and auto leasing deal

Rideshare wars just got even more interesting. Uber has confirmed a strategic investment and auto leasing deal from Toyota.

“Toyota is a global leader in the automotive industry and Toyota vehicles are among the most popular cars on the Uber platform worldwide,” Uber said in a statement to TechCrunch. “We are proud to partner with Toyota in a variety of ways, including the expansion of our vehicle financing program.”

Uber would not disclose terms of the deal or the financing program and there aren’t many details yet, but according to a release from the car manufacturer, Toyota is interested in exploring the future of transportation with Uber and the companies have “entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore collaboration, starting with trials, in the world of ridesharing in countries where ridesharing is expanding, taking various factors into account such as regulations, business conditions, and customer needs.”

The Toyota leasing deal helps Uber expand its financing program for Uber drivers, Uber Xchange, but will also bolster Uber’s moves into a self-driving vehicle future.

Though self-driving didn’t get a mention, a slew of major car manufacturers and tech companies have started investing in rideshare services and Toyota is a big player in self-driving innovation.

The car manufacturer announced last November it was putting forth $1 billion for the creation of the Toyota Research Institute, which is a new company established to develop AI and robotics for self-driving capabilities.

Note GM invested half a billion dollars in Uber rival Lyft earlier this year, with plans to work with the ridesharing company on self-driving innovation, as well.

Also, Volkswagen confirmed a $300 million deal with the New York-based ridesharing startup Gett this morning and Apple, which is rumored to be building its own self-driving vehicles, added a $1 billion investment to the recently renamed Chinese rideshare service Didi Chuxing earlier in May.