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Uber makes self-driving vehicle deal with Volvo

21 November 2017

The Swedish automaker confirmed it had entered into an agreement to supply Uber with up to 24,000 of its flagship XC90 SUVs cars, complete with autonomous technology.

The agreement marks a bold step forward for Uber, both for its autonomous program and its overall operational strategy.

The cars, in theory, would be available through the Uber app to pick up passengers without a driver. That company has negotiated deals with several manufacturers, including General Motors and, more recently, Ford Motor Co., that will put some of their autonomous vehicles into fleet testing and eventual commercial application.

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San Francisco - Uber plans to buy up to 24,000 self-driving Volvos once they're in production and add the vehicles to its ride-hailing fleet.

The deal, estimated to be worth as much as $1.4billion, will see Uber purchase XC90 vehicles between 2019 and 2021.

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The new XC90s that Uber is sourcing from Volvo will be more advanced in their self-driving abilities compared to the existing test cars.

In an interview, Uber's Head of Automotive Alliances, Jeff Miller, claimed, "Everything we're doing right now is about building autonomous vehicles at scale". Volvo engineers have been working closely with Uber to develop a base vehicle with core driverless technology that the ride-hailing company can then augment. Should the world's highest-valued - and severely lossmaking - startup commit fully to the framework agreement, it would also be Volvo's biggest-ever deal, and account for 4,5% of the group's total sales, according to Wall Street Journal. "Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for [autonomous driving] ride-sharing service providers globally".

Monday's agreement represents one of the most concrete deals between two big players in the field for the production of a large number of real cars, which is making other auto manufacturers race to develop their own models of self-driving vehicles.

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Uber makes self-driving vehicle deal with Volvo