Toyota Motor Corp. and SoftBank Corp. said Thursday they have tied up to develop services using self-driving vehicles and other advanced automotive technologies, the latest example of a carmaker joining hands with an IT firm in the fast-evolving auto industry.
In the first alliance between Japan's auto and technology giants, they will set up a joint venture by next March that will aim to offer services such as meal deliveries and hospital shuttles using autonomous vehicles.
SoftBank will own a 50.25 percent stake and Toyota a 49.75 percent stake in the venture named Monet Technologies Corp., which will be capitalized initially at 2 billion yen ($17.5 million), increasing to 10 billion yen in the future, they said.
As a first step, the entity, to be led by SoftBank Chief Technology Officer Junichi Miyakawa, will launch a ride-hailing service in the next fiscal year starting April for local municipalities and firms in Japan. Its services will be expanded overseas in the future.
"The tie-up between Toyota, the world's leading mobility company, and SoftBank, which is focused on artificial intelligence that will redefine all industries including autos, will lead to unprecedented mobility in a new era," SoftBank Group Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son said at a joint news conference with Toyota President Akio Toyoda in Tokyo.
"Monet is only the first stage. I am hoping that the collaboration will further expand and deepen into the second, third stages," Son said.