SoftBank and Toyota want driverless cars to change the world

SoftBank and Toyota want to change the world of transportation through autonomous vehicles and other technologies.

Superior Japanese companies are forming a joint venture called Monet to develop businesses that will use driverless car technology to offer new services such as mobile convenience stores and on-the-go delivery vehicles.

SoftBank (SFTBF) It will have just over half of the currencies Toyota (TM) he will hold the rest.

The name of the new company is not a reference to the famous French painter Claude Monet, but a shortened version of the words “mobility network”.

Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son were at the announcement of the project in Tokyo on Thursday, a rare joint appearance by the heads of two of the world’s largest Japanese companies.

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SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Toyota President Akio Toyoda in Tokyo on Thursday.

Toyota first approached SoftBank with the idea of ​​forming a Japanese alliance to try to catch up to global rivals developing self-driving technology.

Globally, major automakers and technology companies like Google’s parent, the alphabet (GOOGLE)and from China Baidu (START) resources are being poured into autonomous vehicles.

Driverless vehicles can and will likely cause major disruptions in the auto industry transform the ride-hailing business.

Son, the billionaire founder of SoftBank, presides over a sprawling empire of artificial intelligence companies, Internet businesses and travel startups that can collect vast amounts of data on traffic patterns, passenger requests and other transportation trends.

The new venture leverages SoftBank’s strengths in technology and data and Toyota’s expertise in vehicle manufacturing. His Among the goals are to develop ways to deal with the problems created by Japan’s rapidly aging society and the shrinking workforce.

Over the next decade, Monet plans to expand services such as self-driving buses that can take seniors to grocery stores, hospital transports that can carry out medical exams on board, and mobile offices. It will initially focus on Japan with the aim of expanding globally.

SoftBank has already put money into self-driving cars. Its $100 billion technology-based Vision Fund committed $2.3 billion to General Motors’ self-driving car unit GM Cruise earlier this year.

On Wednesday, another major Japanese company, Honda (HMC)He also said he would invest $2.8 billion in GM Cruise.

Toyota has started pumping resources into driverless cars.

In March, it launched 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 self-driving car.

SoftBank and Toyota have invested in or partnered with some of the world’s biggest ride-hailing companies, including Uber, China’s Didi Chuxing and Singapore’s Grab.

The new SoftBank-Toyota venture shows how the relationship between automakers and tech companies has changed.

Twenty years ago, the company’s Japanese dealer Son approached Toyota with the idea of ​​connecting to the Internet. But Toyoda refused.

Back then, Son said, SoftBank was a small company reaching the “giant rock” of Toyota. Today, it is the carmaker who is asking for help.

— CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report.

CNNMoney (Hong Kong) Posted October 4, 2018: 1:32 am ET