Another Major Autonomous Venture Announced Today
It’s called “MONET Technologies Corporation” and it is a joint venture company that is focused on “new mobility services,” a.k.a., “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS), services that will be initially rolled out in Japan starting in the next decade, including autonomous services.
Oh, and the two partners are SoftBank (50.25% owner) and Toyota (49.75%), with the initial capital investment being 2.0-billion yen (or about $17,584,000 U.S.), going to 10-billion yen as things get rolling. Serious money.
(For those of you who read yesterday’s piece about Honda and GM, yes, it is the same SoftBank that has a $2.25-billion investment in Cruise—that communications company is clearly quite serious about this whole transformation of transportation.)
Masayoshi Son of SoftBank Group (left) and Akio Toyoda
The starting point will be on-demand services, then by the second half of the 2020s there will be an autonomous services business, using the e-Palette battery-electric vehicles that Toyota introduced at this year’s CES and which it will be deploying during the 2020 Summer Olympics Games in Tokyo.
SoftBank will provide its Internet of Things (IoT) technology and Toyota its Mobility Service Platform (MSPF). Which, of course, includes vehicles.
Remember that ride-hailing—autonomous or otherwise (think of the Lyft or Uber app that you may use: there is a whole lot of backend working)—is data and communications-intensive. It isn’t simply about things on four wheels.
In during the announcement of MONET, Toyota president Akio Toyoda said, in part, “The automotive industry is facing sweeping once-in-a-century changes. These changes have been caused by the advent of innovative new technologies called ‘CASE’ for short.
“CASE stands for ‘connected,’ ‘autonomous,’ ‘shared,’ and ‘electric.’ These ideas are totally changing the concept of the car, and our new competitors are radically changing the concept of the car, and our new competitors are radically changing the rules of competition in the market.
“I think that cars will become part of our social network by connecting us to our communities through data and information, and helping to provide services that support our everyday lives.”
Yes, “data and information.”
Cars are one thing. Connection is another.
And MONET seemingly is working to put the two together.
Although all OEMs and suppliers do their utmost best to assure nothing but top-notch quality is achieved for their vehicles and systems, sometimes things simply go wrong because, well, that’s just how the Universe is.
Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., said at CES today that his goal is to transform Toyota from being a car company to becoming a mobility company.
The auto industry’s transition to self-driving cars will bring a huge change in the way vehicle interiors are designed, says Adient’s Nicholas Petouhoff.