Toyota, SoftBank tie up on autonomous vehicle services

Japan's No. 1 automaker Toyota Motor Corp and technology giant SoftBank Group Corp are setting up a joint venture to create mobility services in what they called a "united Japan" effort to face global competition.
The venture, Monet Technologies Corp, capitalized at 2 billion yen, is meant to be running by the end of March.
It will work on on-demand vehicle services, food deliveries, data analysis and hospital shuttles with onboard medical exams, the companies said Thursday in a news conference at a Tokyo hotel.
"Many of you here may be asking why Toyota and SoftBank?" Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda said of the odd-couple union of an old-style manufacturer with a relative newcomer like SoftBank.
The energy and telecoms company's past tie-ups have tended to be with overseas startups. But it's a leader in car-sharing with stakes in Uber, Didi and Grab, and has acquired Arm, a leader in the Internet of Things, or IoT.
Toyoda stressed the auto industry was changing in an era of connected cars, autonomous driving, car-sharing and electric vehicles.
"We want to change," said Toyoda.
SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son said he was thrilled about partnering with a top automaker, calling it a meeting between mobility and artificial intelligence, his company's expertise.
"I'm so excited just thinking about it," he said, appearing with Toyoda on stage.
Both executives praised each other profusely after the news conference.
Toyota, SoftBank tie up on autonomous vehicle services
Representative Director and CTO of SoftBank Corp Junichi Miyakawa, left and Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corp Shigeki Tomoyama shake hands during a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday. Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko
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