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Toyota turns to Japan taxi group after Uber deal blowback

Aug 05 2016 16:30

Tokyo - Toyota Motor Corporation said it will collaborate with Japan’s taxi association and emphasized its 80-year history of working with the industry, weeks after the group excoriated the automaker’s alliance with Uber Technologies.

The Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations and Toyota will establish a task force that regularly meets on items including experimentation with automated driving technology, the car maker said in a statement on Friday.

Toyota has a next-generation taxi model that will be made available to Japan cab drivers starting next year.

The taxi federation criticized Toyota’s investment in Uber during its annual meeting in June, Bloomberg News reported last month.

President Akio Toyoda met with and tried to reassure the federation’s chairman that the tie-up won’t affect Japan. Masataka Tomita, the chairman, had said Toyota was "sending supplies to our enemy."

"The Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations and Toyota are joining hands in this pursuit, to enhance the convenience for a broad range of customers including the elderly, families with children, and foreign tourists," Toyota said in its statement.

Collaboration on analysing road traffic environment and experimenting with automated driving technology will be carried out in Tokyo, according to the company.

The memorandum of understanding signed by Toyota and the 200 000-taxi federation is indicative of the pressure the automaker was under to appease an important ally.

Toyota enjoys an 80% share of the Japan’s cab fleet, according to the federation. At the same time, Toyota’s deal with Uber reflected the heat the car maker faced in keeping up with rivals including General Motors and Volkswagen, which have ride-sharing alliances of their own.

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