Honda, Hino to join SoftBank-Toyota partnership's self-driving car service project; to take 10% stake in venture

Tokyo: Honda Motor Co and Japanese truck maker Hino Motors Ltd will join a joint venture of SoftBank Group Corp and Toyota Motor Corp that aims to develop self-driving car services, the venture said on Thursday.

Under an agreement, Honda and Hino, in which Toyota owns a majority stake, would each invest around 250 million yen ($2.27 million) in the joint venture, Monet Technologies, and take 10 percent stakes in the venture, Monet said.

 Honda, Hino to join SoftBank-Toyota partnerships self-driving car service project; to take 10% stake in venture

Representational image. Reuters.

Japanese tech and telecoms conglomerate SoftBank and Toyota formed the joint venture last year. It will foray in the ride-sharing sphere that is dominated by Uber, Didi Chuxing and Lyft, as car makers and tech companies battle for dominance in self-driving cars in anticipation of a future where people drive less.

Monet plans to roll out a platform to operate self-driving vehicles in the later half of the 2020s based on Toyota’s “e-palette”, a boxy multi-purpose vehicle which can be used for on-demand mobile shops, offices and other services.

The new investment from Hino and Honda would leave SoftBank with a 40.2 percent stake in Monet, down from just over 50 percent when the venture was formed. Toyota will hold a 39.8 percent stake.

Monet also said it had formed a consortium of 88 Japanese companies including Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan, beverage maker Suntory Holdings Ltd and Yahoo Japan Corp to collaborate on projects, which could include product delivery or product-related services.

Through its Vision Fund’s investments, SoftBank Group is already a major player in ride sharing. Founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son says his portfolio companies, which include Uber, Didi, Grab and Ola, control 90 percent of the industry.

Updated Date: Mar 28, 2019 11:57:21 IST