Toyota-SoftBank to lead future of transportation together


The joint venture between two giants is to change the way people use vehicles.

Toyota Motor Corp and SoftBank Group announced that they would collaborate to develop self-driving vehicles and other new mobility technologies. The deal aims at sharing costs and securing expertise in technologies and promises a drastic change in the way people use cars. The two companies held a news conference in Tokyo to announce the plan.

The companies stated in a statement that they would form a new joint venture dubbed as MONET, short for ‘mobility network’ that will initiate with $17.5 million in the capital. Junichi Miyakawa, SoftBank’s Vice President is going to be Monet’s CEO. SoftBank will take a 50.25% stake and Toyota 49.75%.

‘e-Palette’ service by Toyota

In recent times, Toyota stated that it was developing a service called ‘e-Palette’ which is based on the concept of its future transportation. Inc, Didi, Uber, and Pizza Hut are early partners in the project. Furthermore, Toyota added that it plans to use ‘e-Palette’ vehicles to ship athletes and guests around during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The strategy of the joint venture

MONET will club Toyota’s connected car technology and data collected from SoftBank’s smartphones and sensor devices. By the mid-2020s, they strategize to develop an autonomous vehicle, the ‘e-Palette,’ which will be used for taxis, driverless delivery vehicles, and services like ride-hailing.

The auto industry’s shift to services like ride-sharing is a new trend known as Mobility-as-a-Service or MaaS. They would also launch a service, Autono-MaaS, which will use the ‘e-Palette’ and will include vehicles that can cook while making deliveries. The two companies aim to expand globally in the future.

Even and Odds

At the moment, Toyota and SoftBank do not have any major partnerships in mobility technologies, although both are in the process of developing technologies for self-driving vehicles, car sharing, and other services. In common, both the companies have investments and partnerships with Uber Technologies and ride-hailing firm Grab and Didi Chuxing.

Toyota envisions future of transportation

Toyota, one of the world’s largest automakers, has been developing automated driving and artificial intelligence technologies in-house and with its group suppliers, while acquiring some technology start-ups. The automaker visions the future of transportation services will include convoys of shuttle bus-sized, self-driving multi-purpose vehicles such as pay-per-use mobile restaurants and hotels.

SoftBank stated, “The business would focus on the Japanese market with an eye to future expansion on the global market.” SoftBank has its own autonomous vehicle unit, SB Drive, which has been developing self-driving technology for buses. Tie-ups between automakers and tech companies are becoming a shortcut for swiftly offering new services to consumers.