The $25 million development alliance Jaguar Land Rover's mobility unit InMotion has formed with US-based ride-share firm Lyft reflects how the British luxury carmaker is leaning towards a fleet service business model for its driverless offerings.
The agreement marks the iconic British brand's largest announced direct investment in self-driving vehicles to date as it helps to underwrite Uber competitor and rided-sharing provider Lyft to develop Jaguar and Land Rover models for driverless car-sharing services.
A Jaguar Land Rover spokesperson would not comment on "future" releases when queried by Driverless about whether Jaguar Land Rover had a target date by when or if it expects to offer Level 3 or Level 4 models for private sales.
Jaguar Land Rover said the investment will support Lyft's "expansion and technology plans."
The agreement will also provide Jaguar Land Rover's InMotion Ventures with the opportunity to develop and test its mobility services, including autonomous vehicles, and to supply Lyft drivers with a fleet of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, the company said.
The development pact will pave the way for the development of solutions to the "transport problems Jaguar Land Rover's customers face," said Sebastian Peck, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover's InMotion.
Personal mobility and smart transportation is evolving and this new collaborative venture will provide a real-world platform helping us develop our connected and autonomous services.
General Motors has staked the biggest claim in Lyft to date after agreeing to invest $500 million in the firm in 2015.
InMotion's latest investment follows its recent seed investment in SPLT, the Detroit-based digital carpool business, which works with Lyft to provide non-emergency medical transport.
The Lyft investment was included as part of the company's most recent round of fundraising, which closed in April.
Jaguar Land Rover said in 2016 it would have a driverless fleet of more than 100 research vehicles in place by 2020 for test and development purposes but did not disclose how much it was investing in the project.
Meanwhile, the Audi A8 is expected to become the most advanced self-driving car once its Level 3 capabilities can be accessed, as early as next year in Germany. Only BMW has announced a specific model that will offer Level 3 model when it introduces the iNext, but it is not slated for launch until 2021. Audi will thus likely become the driverless frontier runner in the private vehicle space, only it will not be legally road-ready until at least next year in Germany.
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