Uber has entered into an agreement with carmaker Volvo to purchase 24,000 of its XC90 SUVs between 2019 and 2021 to form a fleet of autonomous vehicles, according to Bloomberg News. The XC90 is the base of Uber's latest-generation self-driving test car, which features sensors and autonomous driving computing capability installed by Uber after purchase on the XC90 vehicle.
The deal is said to be worth around $1.4 billion, per the Financial Times, with the XC90 starting at $46,900 in the U.S. in terms of base model consumer pricing. Uber is already testing the XC90 in Arizona, San Francisco and Pittsburgh in trials with safety drivers on board to help refine and improve their software. Uber also paired up with Volvo to jointly develop autonomous driving and a vehicle ready for self-driving implementation, with investment from both sides committed last year.
Uber's new fleet of XC90s will go further than the existing test vehicles, in that they will incorporate redundant systems for braking and steering that will allow them to operate without a human safety driver on board. The 24,000 vehicle model is also subject to change, depending on Uber's needs. Uber also paints the right to order vehicles from other OEMs to help contribute to its fleet as part of the deal.
Driverless rival Waymo, Alphabet's autonomous vehicle unit, recently announced plans to launch its own self-driving ride hailing service open to consumers soon, which might be part of the impetus behind Uber accelerating its own plans. Still, no timeline has been given from either company for when everyday users might be able to access the services in a non-testing capacity.
An Uber spokesperson confirmed the 24,000 number offers a general framework, but does not represent the actual confirmed number of cars that will be purchased.