In a continued trend among auto makers where they are forging partnerships with other firms for the development of autonomous vehicles, Japanese auto maker Toyota has teamed up with SoftBank to work together on a project called Money where the firms would be developing autonomous vehicle technology.
A similar partnership was recently announced by Honda and General Motors for the development of driverless cars.
The Internet of Things platform of SoftBank and the Mobility Services Platform and information infrastructure for connected vehicles of Toyota would be combined in the Monet project which is a short form for “mobility network”. The companies hope that through the project they would be able to develop and launch autonomous mobility services as early as the late 2020s – first in Japan and ultimately globally. This new venture would be formed by the end of the current fiscal year ending in March next year and 50.25 per cent of the project would be owned by SoftBank while the remaining 49.75 per cent would belong to Toyota.
Ride-hailing companies Uber, Grab and Didi Chuxing all have both Toyota and SoftBank as their investors. However this is their first attempt at working together in any project of some significance. The two Japanese companies would make an investment of 2 billion yen ($17.5 million) in the Money project as capital which would be ultimately increased to about 10 billion yen as and when required.
“The mobility company is just the first step,” said SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son sharing the stage alongside Toyota President Akio Toyoda. “There will be a second and third and I hope that the connection will deepen going forward.”
In another development in the auto world, investments of a 5.7 per cent stake in GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary Cruise – amounting to $750 million in equity stake, was made by Honda according to an announcement of the company. The Japanese automaker also has intention to make investment of another $2 billion over the next 12 years.
Interestingly, Cruise has also seen an investment from SoftBank and had already committed to investing $2.25 billion in May this year against a stake of 19.6 per cent in the project. This project was acquired in 2016 for more than $1 billion in cash and stock by GM and the project was then called Cruise Automation.
On the other hand, earlier this week, announcement of the partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan to be extended to include batteries, self-driving vehicles and mobility services was made by the 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 at the Paris Auto Show.
(Adapted from Fortune.com)