Toyota, SoftBank agree to form JV for self-driving car services
The news follows an announcement from General Motors (GM) on Wednesday that Honda (HMC) will invest $2.75B and take a 5.7% stake in its Cruise self-driving vehicle unit, in which SoftBank is also an investor.
TOYOTA, SOFTBANK TO FORM JV
Toyota announced in a statement that it and SoftBank will form a joint venture called MONET, short for mobility network, to develop businesses that will use driverless-car technology to offer new services, such as mobile convenience stores and delivery vehicles in which food is prepared en route.
MONET will provide coordination between Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform, Toyota’s information infrastructure for connected vehicles, and SoftBank’s Internet of Things Platform, which was built to create new value from the collection and analysis of data acquired from smartphones and sensor devices, the companies said.
MONET will roll out an autonomous driving service using e-Palette, Toyota’s dedicated battery electric vehicle for mobility services, by the second half of the 2020s, Toyota and SoftBank added.
The venture will have initial capital of Y2B, and SoftBank will own just over half of the business, which will initially focus on Japan and eventually go global, according to a Reuters report.
Junichi Miyakawa, chief technology officer at SoftBank who will be CEO of the new company, commented that “SoftBank alone and automakers alone can’t do everything… We want to work to help people with limited access to transportation.”
Earlier this year, Toyota set up a new company dedicated to the research and development of self-driving vehicles, with plans to invest $2.8 billion to develop a commercially viable autonomous car.
RECENT PARTNERSHIPS IN AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
On Wednesday, Cruise and GM announced that they partnered with Honda to work towards large-scale deployment of autonomous vehicle technology.
Honda will work jointly with Cruise and General Motors to fund and develop a purpose-built autonomous vehicle for Cruise that can serve a wide variety of use cases and be manufactured at high volume for global deployment.
Honda will contribute approximately $2B over 12 years to these initiatives, which, together with a $750M equity investment in Cruise, brings its total commitment to the project to $2.75B.
SoftBank’s Vision Fund committed $2.3B to Cruise earlier this year.
Additionally, Renault (RNSDF)-Nissan (NSANY) and Daimler (DDAIF) are considering expanding their collaboration to battery and autonomous vehicle technology as well as mobility services, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing comments made by the CEOs of both companies.
“The industry being in transformation in the area of connectivity, autonomous cars and connected services, there are plenty of areas of cooperation for our entities,” Renault Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said.
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