AP Photo/Eric Risberg
Uber and German automaker Daimler today announced an agreement whereby Daimler will begin producing self-driving Mercedes-Benz vehicles that will operate on Uber's global ride-sharing network.
Why it matters: This is the first time that Uber has contracted with an auto OEM to put a fleet on its rider network ― self-driving or otherwise ― and it sounds unlikely to be the last (this is a non-exclusive agreement on both sides). It also reflects a bit of strategy shift, or at least strategy broadening, from an existing program to outfit cars with Uber's self-driving "kit."Expect to see a mix going forward.
Is it unique? No. Lyft and General Motors (a major Lyft shareholder) struck a similar agreement last year.
Open questions: No word on the financial terms, nor if the agreement involves any sort of equity. We also don't know the timing of roll-out nor where initial markets will be.
Quotable: "Auto manufacturers like Daimler are crucial to our strategy because Uber has no experience making cars—and in fact, making cars is really hard. This became very clear to me after I visited an auto manufacturing plant and saw how much effort goes into designing, testing and building cars." ― Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.