Toyota president Akio Toyoda shakes hands with SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son at a news conference to announce their Monet joint venture, in Tokyo, Japan, on October 4 2018. Picture: REUTERS/ISSEI KATO
Toyota president Akio Toyoda shakes hands with SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son at a news conference to announce their Monet joint venture, in Tokyo, Japan, on October 4 2018. Picture: REUTERS/ISSEI KATO

Tokyo — Japanese car giant Toyota and conglomerate Softbank are creating a joint venture to provide “new mobility services” including autonomous vehicles for services such as meal deliveries.

The new company will be called Monet — short for “mobility network” — and will be 50.25% owned by Softbank, with the remainder held by Toyota.

Monet will be created by April 2019 and will have an initial capital injection of ¥2bn ($17.5m), rising eventually to ¥10bn, said the new firm’s CEO, Junichi Miyakawa.

The plan is that by the second half of the next decade, the new firm will start offering autonomous services using Toyota’s battery electric vehicles.

“Possibilities include demand-focused just-in-time mobility services, such as meal delivery vehicles where food is prepared on the move, hospital shuttles where onboard medical examinations can be performed, and mobile offices,” the two companies said.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda has pledged to transform the auto behemoth “from a car manufacturer to a mobility company” to face what he described as a “once-in-a-century challenge” to an industry undergoing “profound change”.

Under tycoon CEO Masayoshi Son, SoftBank, which started as a software firm, has increasingly been seen as an investment firm, ploughing funds into a broad range of companies and projects outside its core business.

In recent years it has completed deals with the likes of French robotics firm Aldebaran and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

“Softbank alone and Toyota alone cannot do everything so we should maybe team up,” said Miyakawa.

He acknowledged that rivals in the US, China and Europe were “further down the road” but stressed: “We're not giving up. We believe we can catch up.”

AFP