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Uber Orders 24,000 Volvo XC90s in $1 Billion Deal for Its RoboTaxi Program

Uber, the once unbeatable ride-hailing company that somehow managed to weaken itself from within, has just signed a new deal with Swedish carmaker Volvo worth one billion U.S. dollars.
Uber's Volvo XC90 RoboTaxi 4 photos
Uber's Volvo XC90 RoboTaxiUber's Volvo XC90 RoboTaxiUber's Volvo XC90 RoboTaxi
The two companies were already working with each other on Uber's self-driving program, with the XC90 SUV being the vehicle of choice after a short sting using Ford Fusion models. The Swedish sports utility vehicle makes even more sense since it already has comprehensible self-driving capabilities built into it.

Uber is one of the many non-automotive businesses that is currently involved in the development of autonomous technology together with tech giants such as Apple or Google - with the latter actually suing Uber over some intellectual theft.

That's not the only problem Uber is facing right now, though it might prove to be the most costly. The company lost its CEO after he resigned earlier this year and other high-profile figures have been accused of sexual harassment and sexist remarks.

With that in mind, a $1 billion investment might not seem the most cautious decision right now, but Uber was never known to play it safe. Besides, winning the autonomous race is crucial for its survival, so no expenses are spared.

The deal signed on Monday sees Uber acquiring 24,000 XC90 SUVs between 2019 and 2021, with the autonomous vehicles destined to be used on U.S. roads alone. This collaboration, however, doesn't mean Volvo and Uber are developing the technology together: the Swedes stressed the company is working on building its own self-driving car separately.

Jeff Miller, the head of automotive alliances at Uber explains why they chose Volvo: “This was important because it was the most modern electrical architecture in the auto industry, which allowed us to integrate a lot of our systems within it in a more seamless fashion," he said. "We wouldn’t be making the level of investment we are if we didn’t think it was going to be an important part of our business going forward,”

In response, the CEO of Volvo, Håkan Samuelsson, said: “Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD [autonomous driving] ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.” Indeed, grabbing a large share of this budding market is going to result is huge sales for any car company over the coming years.

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