Uber’s long-term strategy goes far beyond self-driving cars, Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in a recent interview with The Verge. Shortly after taking over the company last August, the industry veteran said he concluded that “the future of Uber couldn’t be just about cars.” Following in-depth reviews, Mr. Khosrowshahi continued supporting the firm’s flying taxi project that’s presently targeting 2020 demos and a limited launch in 2022. The move was part of the startup’s new strategy meant to transform it from a ride-hailing service provider to a “global A-to-B urban mobility platform,” according to the CEO.
The same sentiment was behind the company’s acquisition of Jump, an electric bike rental startup that’s said to have cost the company in the ballpark of $100 million. Mr. Khosrowshahi’s vision of the future involves Uber helping people move across urban areas using a wide variety of means, from cars and bikes to buses and flying taxis. The startup isn’t attaching any bold timelines to those projects, with the CEO acknowledging even organizing a carpooling service by getting two people inside a vehicle is already difficult on its own, let alone running such a service with a flying vehicle fleet.
Uber lost some $4.5 billion last year but isn’t concerned about its aggressive diversification push impacting its bottom line much further, with Mr. Khosrowshahi claiming the company’s flying taxi and other services will all utilize vehicles built and owned by its partners, much like its core ride-hailing business operates. “We bring mass demand, which will allow the economics to come down to a level that will create a mass market for it,” the former Expedia CEO said in regards to what Uber’s exact role on the market is. The head of the world’s most valuable startup is also expecting the company to resume its self-driving testing program in the coming months, having hired more independent experts to consult on the initiative following a March accident in Tempe, Arizona, which saw a jaywalking pedestrian killed after one of Uber‘s self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs failed to avoid a collision, having not even attempted to break.