Honda, Hino to join SoftBank, Toyota’s self-driving car service company

The Honda logo is displayed on the 89th Geneva motor show in Geneva, Switzerland, 5 March 2019. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

TOKYO (Reuters) – Honda Motor Co and Japanese truck maker Hino Motors Ltd. will participate in a joint venture between SoftBank Group Corp, Toyota Motor Corp, which 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 10 per cent stake in the company, Monet said.

Japanese tech and telecom conglomerate SoftBank and Toyota formed a joint venture last year. The trip in the ride-sharing area that is dominated by Uber, Didi Chuxing and Lyft, such as car manufacturers and tech companies battle for dominance in self-driving cars in anticipation of a future where people drive less.

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

The new investment of Hino and Honda would leave SoftBank with a 40.2% of the shares in Monet, of slightly more than 50 percent in the joint venture was established. Toyota holds a 39.8 per cent of the shares.

Monet also said that it had formed a consortium of 88 Japanese companies, including Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan, beverage maker Suntory Holdings Ltdand Yahoo Japan Corp to work together on projects, which may include delivery of the product or product-related services.

By the Vision of Fund investment, SoftBank Group has been a major player in the ride-sharing. Founder and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son, says its portfolio companies, including Uber, Didi, Pak and Ola, control 90 per cent of the industry.

($1 = 110.1700 yen)

Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Stephen Coates and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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