Softbank and Toyota want to change the world of transportation through autonomous vehicles and other technologies.
The high-profile Japanese companies are forming a joint venture called Monet to develop businesses that will use driverless-car technology to offer new services, such as mobile convenience stores and delivery vehicles in which food is prepared en route.
SoftBank ( will own just over half of Monet, while )Toyota ( will hold 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 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 business, in which both Toyota and Softbank have invested.
Both companies have invested in or partnered with some of the world’s biggest ride-hailing startups including Uber, China’s Didi Chuxing and Singapore-based Grab.