Toyota and SoftBank Are the Newest Auto Tech Bigwigs to Team Up in an Autonomous Car Project
When it comes to autonomous vehicles, there’s strength in numbers. Honda (HMC) and General Motors (GM) just revealed they are working together on a driverless car project, and now Toyota (TM) is teaming up with SoftBank (SFTBY) on an autonomous mobility project called Monet.
Monet—short for “mobility network”—will combine Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform and information infrastructure for connected vehicles with SoftBank’s Internet of Things platform. Monet aims to launch autonomous mobility services in the late 2020s in Japan and eventually globally. SoftBank will own 50.25% of the venture, to be founded by the end of this fiscal year next April, and Toyota will hold the remaining 49.75%.
Both Toyota and SoftBank hold investments in ride-hailing firms Uber, Grab and Didi Chuxing, but this is their first significant collaboration, Reuters reports. The Japanese giants will launch Monet with 2 billion yen ($17.5 million) in capital and scale up to 10 billion yen as needed. “The mobility company is just the first step,” SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son said on stage with Toyota President Akio Toyoda. “There will be a second and third and I hope that the connection will deepen going forward.”
Honda made a $750 million equity stake, equal to 5.7%, in GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary Cruise yesterday, and plans to invest another $2 billion over the next 12 years. SoftBank is already an investor in Cruise, committing $2.25 billion in May this year for a 19.6% stake. GM bought the startup, then called Cruise Automation, for more than $1 billion in cash and stock in 2016.
Meanwhile, Daimler (DDAIF) and Renault-Nissan (RNSDF) said yesterday they may extend their partnership to batteries, self-driving vehicles and mobility services. “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 at the Paris Auto Show.