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Five Automakers Join Toyota’s Self-Driving Vehicle Venture

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Fully autonomous self-driving cars are now on the horizon, but it’s an expensive process to get there. Last October, Toyota and Softbank teamed up to establish a joint venture, called Monet, devoted to developing businesses that offer new services via driverless car technology.

Toyota believes that the future of mobility will only arrive at a reasonable rate if tech companies and automakers work together, and its fellow Japanese automakers seem to agree. Five of them have now joined the venture, including Daihatsu (Toyota’s compact car division), Isuzu, Mazda, Subaru, and Suzuki.

Each of the five will invest 57.10 million yen (or $530,620) into the venture in return for a two percent stake. Toyota and SoftBank will meanwhile each retain their 35 percent stake in Monet, which is now capitalized at $26.6 million.

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Honda and Hino Motors, which had already previously joined the venture, also said they were making additional investments, though their stakes will remain at 10 percent.

Prior to these investments, Monet CEO Junichi Miyakawa said the company was planning to expand its investor base and start operating in Southeast Asia in 2020.

That’s the same year Toyota plans to use Monet to roll out on-demand bus and vehicle service in Japan. Later, the automaker intends to use Monet as a services platform for electric vehicles based on its e-Palette multi-purpose electric vehicle, which could be used for meal deliveries or even as mobile offices or hotels. That’s expected to happen as early as 2023, but we’ll probably see the actual vehicle earlier than that.

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