First stop Southeast Asia: SoftBank, Toyota’s autonomous car venture heads overseasReuters #Of_SoftBankJune 12, 2019
TOKYO (Reuters) – The self-driving car joint venture of SoftBank Corp and Toyota Motor plans to begin operating in Southeast Asia next year, in its first overseas foray, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
FILE PHOTO : A mock of self-driving car e-Palette is displayed at a news conference by Monet Technologies Inc., a joint venture of SoftBank Corp and Toyota Motor Corp that will develop self-driving car services, in Tokyo, Japan March 28, 2019.
The move would mark a shift for Japan’s third biggest telco as it looks abroad for growth and potentially bring it into competition with portfolio companies of parent SoftBank Group Corp and its $100 billion Vision Fund, which has invested in major ride-hailing firms around the world.
Monet, which is developing an on-demand self-driving service platform, is planning to export a basic version of the system, Chief Executive Junichi Miyakawa told Reuters.
SoftBank Corp is the largest shareholder in the venture, which was announced last October, with a 40.2% share, while Toyota owns 39.8%.
Currently chief technology officer of SoftBank Corp, Miyakawa began looking for projects outside of its core telco business, which faces a mature market and shrinking population, on his return from a stint at SoftBank’s struggling U.S. wireless unit Sprint.
The son of a Buddhist priest who is known for his frank style and big ideas like flying cellphone antenna company HAPSMobile, Miyakawa settled on the idea of developing a platform for autonomous cars after flirting with the idea of making cars.
While Monet’s global ambitions will initially be limited to basic transport services, any expansion could eventually put it in competition with SoftBank portfolio companies, which include Uber Technologies , Didi Chuxing, Grab and Ola and the self-driving units of Uber and General Motors.
FILE PHOTO : Junichi Miyakawa, CEO of Monet Technologies Inc., a joint venture of SoftBank Corp and Toyota Motor Corp that will develop self-driving car services, speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan March 28, 2019.
“As a company, we will go up against rivals which the Vision Fund invests in if it means we can provide the best services we can.”