Subaru, Mazda Join Toyota and SoftBank's Autonomous Car Venture

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【Summary】Subaru and Mazda are joining Toyota and SoftBank’s venture to develop services that will use autonomous cars. Together, all of the major companies are looking to come out with a ride-sharing service.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Aug 12, 2019 7:30 AM PT
Subaru, Mazda Join Toyota and SoftBank's Autonomous Car Venture

At the end of last month, Toyota and SoftBank announced a venture named Monet . The partnership includes multiple automakers including Suzuki, Isuzu, and Daihatsu and is focusing on developing an on-demand self-driving service platform that would, of course, utilize autonomous vehicles. Well, two more automakers have joined the venture – Subaru and Mazda. The venture now includes five major automakers.

How The Partnership Breaks Down

According to Automotive News, Mazda, Suzuki, Subaru, Isuzu Motors, and Daihatsu (a compact subsidiary of Toyota), will each invest roughly $530,620 in the venture. The return for the investment is a 2 percent stake in Monet. Softbank and Toyota will retain their 35 percent stakes in the company, which is now valued at $26.6 million. Honda Motor Co. and Hino Motors, Toyota's truck arm, are expected to make additional investments and will retain 10 percent of the company each, reports the outlet.

Monet is expected to have on-demand bus and vehicles services in Japan within the next year. With five Japanese automakers investing in the company, it makes plenty of sense to launch with a service in the area first. After that service, Monet wants to come out with a platform for electric vehicles as soon as 2023. The services platform for EVs would be based on Toyota's "e-palette" car.  

If Monet wants to take on ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, it will need all the help it can get. Startups like Uber and Lyft have dominated the ridesharing landscape as they were some of the first on the scene, continue to expand globally, expand the number of services they offer, and have plans in place to move toward autonomous vehicles. Traditional automakers like Mazda, Toyota, and Subaru can't compete head-to-head with technology companies when it comes to developing the necessary software or business model to offer more than just private vehicles to consumers. Hence, the decision to merge traditional brands with startups.

Why Working Together Makes Sense

The companies didn't claim what autonomous system they would be using or if they would all split the costs of coming up with something entirely new for everyone to use. Toyota is currently working on developing autonomous technology, but that's geared toward regular drivers and regular cars. Monet is all about commercial use and reveals that traditional automakers don't want to be left and high when it comes to commercial options.

The addition of Subaru and Mazda to the growing list makes plenty of sense. Toyota has worked with Subaru before with the BRZ and 86 sports cars. Subaru also uses Toyota's plug-in hybrid technology in the new Crosstrek Hybrid. Mazda also works with Toyota, as the brands are working together to come out with electric powertrains . In case you didn't know, the current Toyota Yaris in the U.S. is a rebadged Mazda2.

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