It was inevitable that Uber would – at some point down the line – order its first autonomous cars. But nobody expected the ride-hailing company to order $9.6 billion worth of Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans.
According to a recent Reuters report, this is exactly what happened. Citing an article from German business publication Manager Magazin, sources from both companies have reported that Uber has indeed ordered 100,000 Mercedes S-Class sedans.
Buying the base S-Class in the U.S. will make your pocket easier with some $96,000. Assuming that Mercedes didn’t offer Uber a huge discount for the bulk purchase, that adds up to a $9.6 billion bill for Uber.
Uber is currently valuated at $62 billion, but it’s still highly unlikely that it would be able to just cut such a check. At the same time, 100,000 S-Class is the overall total of models sold by Mercedes worldwide last year, so it’s laughable that a single company like Uber would double its output.
While the reality of this deal is currently highly unlikely, it’s not off the table that Uber might make a similar deal in the future. Currently, Uber is basically treading water, waiting for autonomous cars to hit the roads en masse.
Next step after that is throwing overboard its human drivers, which are Uber’s biggest cost at the moment. But with that being said, it’s noteworthy of mention that the S-Class isn’t yet autonomous.
Even though the flagship sedan is expected to be the German luxury brand’s first model to sport the long-awaited full autonomy, that achievement is still a few years down the road. Mercedes hopes to launch its first autonomous S-Class in 2020.
This is yet another reason why the authenticity of this report is even more unclear. Why would Uber make this move now, and not wait a few more years?
According to analysts, the autonomous car technology market will be valued at $25 billion by
2020, so Uber shopping around for ways to invest in this field is not that far-fetched.
But even if companies would launch self-driving cars by 2020, analysts believe they will not start cruising on the roads until 2025 or 2030 because of the complicated government regulation.
Meanwhile, the rumor about Uber’s deal with Mercedes is bound to get both Uber drivers and riders looking ahead to a not-too-distant future where Uber rides are robot-operated. In fact, that day is not as far as some might think.
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