Volvo to supply Uber with cars

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This file handout picture shows a woman reading inside a so-called autonomous driving (AD) car. AFP/VOLVO/HANDOUT

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Swedish carmaker Volvo Cars said Monday it has signed an agreement to supply “tens of thousands” of self-driving cars to Uber, as the ride-sharing company battles a number of different controversies.

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Volvo – which is owned by China’s Geely and has yet to build a self-driving system – said in a statement that it would supply Uber with “autonomous driving compatible base vehicles between 2019 and 2021.”

Uber would then add its own software system to enable the cars to drive pilot-less.

When contacted by AFP, a Volvo spokesman did not specify the exact number of cars, but a source familiar with the matter said it could be around 24,000.

Neither Volvo nor Uber released financial details, but based on list prices for the cars the deal could be worth more than $1 billion (around 850 million euros).

“This opens a whole new segment for us. We are open to deliver to more taxi companies,” Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson told Swedish financial newspaper Dagens Industri.

The deal builds on a non-exclusive agreement signed back in 2016 by Uber and Volvo, which is expected to release its first self-driving car in 2021.

The statement said that “Volvo Cars’ engineers have worked closely together with engineers from Uber to develop the XC90 premium SUVs that are to be supplied to Uber.”

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,” the statement said.

Uber’s head of auto alliances, Jeff Miller, said the deal “puts us on a path towards mass produced self-driving vehicles at scale.”

Uber was thrown into disarray earlier this year when Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew its licence to operate in the British capital due to concerns about public safety for passengers and the process of driver registration.

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