Softbank and Toyota want to change the world of transportation through autonomous vehicles and other technologies.
The high-profile Japanese companies are forming a new joint venture called Monet that will develop businesses that use driverless-car technology to offer new services, such as mobile convenience stores or delivery vehicles in which food is prepared en route.
SoftBank ( will own just over half of Monet, while )Toyota ( will own the rest. )
The new company’s name is not a reference to Claude Monet, the famous abstract French painter, but rather a shortened version of the words “mobility network.”
Toyota President Akio Toyoda and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son attended the announcement of the project Thursday in Tokyo, a rare joint appearance by the heads of two of Japan’s biggest global companies.
The deal is Softbank’s latest big bet on automated driving.
The company’s $100 billion Vision Fund, its tech-focused investment arm, committed $2.3 billion to General Motors’ self-driving car unit GM Cruise earlier this year. On Wednesday, Honda ( said it would also invest nearly $3 billion in GM Cruise. )
Like many other big automakers, Toyota is pumping resources into driverless cars.
It set up a new company in March dedicated to the research and development of self-driving vehicles, with plans to invest $2.8 billion to develop a commercially viable autonomous car.
Driverless vehicles have the potential to cause huge disruption in the auto industry and are also likely to transform the ride-hailing industry, in which both Toyota and Softbank have invested.
The two companies have a number of investments and partnerships with ride-hailing startups including Uber, China’s Didi Chuxing and Singapore-based Grab.
CNNMoney (Hong Kong) First published October 4, 2018: 1:32 AM ET