Volvo has confirmed that it will provide 24,000 XC90 SUVs, which have been adapted to be self-driving, to ride-sharing firm Uber from 2019 to 2021.
The Swedish manufacturer will also use its largest SUV for developing an autonomous car of its own, which is expected to arrive in international markets in 2021.
The new non-exclusive agreement between Volvo and Uber comes after an announcement last year of a strategic partnership between the two. This had resulted in Uber using 100 autonomous XC90s in a driverless taxi trial in Pittsburgh, US.
Volvo has said the SUVs “incorporate all the necessary safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies that are required for Uber to add its own self-driving technology”.
Volvo boss Håkan Samuelsson, speaking to our sister publication Autocar UK said its aim is "to be the supplier of choice for autonomous-driving, ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”
Uber partnerships chief Jeff Miller added: “This new agreement puts us on a path towards mass-produced self-driving vehicles at scale.”
Manufacturers creating partnerships with ride-sharing firms is becoming more common as automakers try to position themselves at the front of a new era of travel, rather than concentrating on traditional car-buying methods. The alliances also provide carmakers an opportunity to rack up autonomous testing kilometres in their respective vehicles.
Earlier in 2017, Ford had announced it is working with Uber rival Lyft on a driverless car trial programme, while Chrysler and Google’s self-driving arm Waymo have tied-up as well.
The Swedish manufacturer has independently launched its own ride-sharing service, Care by Volvo, which will be offered on the new XC40 SUV as well as the Polestar 1 coupé. Users of the subscription service, who will pay a set fee each month, will be able to share the car via an app with a handful of friends or family.
Volvo digital boss Atif Rafiq told Autocar UK earlier this year, “You can imagine lending to a stranger. We need to develop the network, for example, by having a car fleet that we own.
“If you’re a car company and you’re not thinking about car sharing, there’s a problem."
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