The Japanese auto industry has joined forces on a self-driving future, with some of the biggest names in the country investing in a company that focuses on autonomous and ride-sharing technology.
Toyota and Japanese financial institution SoftBank set up the autonomous-tech firm Monet to focus on on-demand and self-driving vehicles in Japan.
But the company has since attracted unprecedented buy-in from almost every major car maker in the country, with Mazda, Honda, Suzuki, Subaru, Isuzu and Hino all investing in the business in preparation for what key executives describe as "a once-in-a-century innovation era".
The companies have all taken differing stakes, with Toyota and SoftBank holding approximately 35 per cent each, Honda and Hino holding 10 per cent, and Mazda, Suzuki, and Subaru, Isuzu Motors and Daihatsu (also owned by Toyota) buying a two-per-cent share.
Monet is an autonomy and ride-hailing company designed to compete with industry giants like Uber and Lyft, as well as provide parcel delivery and public transport solutions. Part of the vision includes Toyota's "e-Palettes"; battery-electric autonomous vehicles that can carry people or parcels.
Its key operation base will be Japan, but the company has already announced plans to expand into South East Asia.
The joint-venture company was launched in October, and will introduce an on-demand services (both bus and passenger vehicles) in Japan next year.
"In addition to those with Toyota, Hino and Honda, our new partnerships with Isuzu, Suzuki, Subaru, Daihatsu and Mazda will enable us to acquire data on their vehicles and mobility services for coordination with the Monet platform," says Junichi Miyakawa, President and CEO of Monet.
"To build a high-level MaaS (Mobility as a Service) platform for an autonomous driving society, it is essential to integrate a wide number of datasets, and these partnerships will further accelerate our progress in building the MaaS business that Monet is aiming for.
"Monet will utilise the data provided by each company and leverage their automotive industry insights and networks. Together with our automotive manufacturer partners we will work to realize and spread innovative mobility services that can resolve Japan's social mobility issues and create new value."
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