Toyota-led ride service venture gains momentum

July 01,2019

Toyota’s vision of an autonomous driving, ride-sharing future.

MONET, the on-demand, self-driving car service venture set up by SoftBank Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. in October last year, has gained new investors — all Japanese carmakers.

In a June 28 statement posted on the media site of Toyota, Monet bared it “concluded capital and business partnership agreements” with Isuzu Motors Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp., Subaru Corp., Mazda Motor Corp. and Toyota-controlled Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd. The five carmakers will each invest about $530,620 in the venture, representing a 2% share in Monet for each company.

The investment will be made in August, Monet disclosed.

The company’s investment structure shows SoftBank as the biggest shareholder at 35.2% while Toyota has 34.8%. But Toyota’s bus and truck division Hino Motors, Ltd. has secured a 10% share in the venture ahead of Daihatsu’s recent investment. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. owns the remaining 10%. Monet puts its capitalization at $26.6 million.

Monet is billed as a next-generation ride-sharing service using self-driving cars. A June 28 report published by news agency Reuters said Monet plans to roll out on-demand transport services in Japan next year, and a services platform for electric vehicles in the country as early as 2023 that’s based on Toyota’s “e-palette” multipurpose vehicle.

Carmakers are increasingly collaborating with technology companies, as well as each other, to accumulate the massive investment and software expertise required to develop these new services for which demand has yet to be tested, Reuters said.

It added Monet’s recent announcement comes after its chief executive told the agency earlier this month that it was planning to expand Monet’s investor base and start operating in Southeast Asia next year.

The report also noted carmakers are increasing their partnerships in order to “compete in an industry which is placing growing emphasis on offering vehicle services rather than selling cars to individual drivers.”

Toyota in August 2018 announced it was extending its partnership with Uber as the companies seek to bring to market autonomous ride-sharing mobility services. Under the agreement, technologies from each company will be integrated into purpose-built Toyota vehicles, which will be deployed on Uber’s ride-sharing network.

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