SoftBank and Toyota are working together to revolutionize the transportation industry through autonomous vehicles, among other technologies.
Monet is a joint-venture formed by the high-profile Japanese firms to create businesses using driverless car technology. These services include mobile convenience stores, delivery vehicles that prepare food on route and even delivery vehicles with a chef.
SoftBank (SFTBF), which will own just under half of Monet (TM), will also hold the remaining shares.
The name of the new company is not a reference to Claude Monet the French painter but a shortened form of "mobility network."
Toyota President Akio Son and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son were present at the announcement of this project in Tokyo on Thursday. This was a rare appearance of the two heads of Japan's largest global companies.
Toyota approached SoftBank first with the idea to create a Japanese alliance in order to catch up to global rivals who are developing autonomous driving technology.
Top carmakers, tech companies, and even Google (GOOGL) and Baidu (BIDU), China's largest search engine, are investing in self-driving cars.
The driverless vehicle has the potential to disrupt the entire auto industry, and also the ride-hailing market.
Son, SoftBank founder and billionaire, is in charge of a vast empire of artificial-intelligence companies, internet businesses, and ride-hailing startups that can collect massive amounts of data about traffic patterns, passenger requests, and other transportation trends.
The new venture aims to find solutions for the problems caused by Japan's rapidly ageing society and shrinking labor force.
Monet has plans to launch services such as self-driving busses that will take the elderly to the grocery store, hospital shuttles with onboard medical examinations, and mobile office. The initial focus will be on Japan, with an eye to expanding internationally.
SoftBank is already investing in autonomous driving. Its $100 billion technology-focused Vision Fund contributed $2.3 billion in the first quarter of this year to General Motors’ self-driving vehicle unit GM Cruise.
Honda (HMC), another major Japanese company, announced on Wednesday that it will also invest $2.8 Billion in GM Cruise.
Toyota is investing heavily in driverless cars.
In March, it set up a company dedicated to research and development for self-driving cars. It plans to invest $2.8 Billion to create a commercially viable auto.
SoftBank and Toyota both invested in or partnered up with some of the biggest ride-hailing companies around the world, including Uber, China’s Didi Chuxing, and Singapore’s Grab.
SoftBank's new venture with Toyota shows the shift in relations between automakers, tech companies and other industries.
Son proposed to Toyota twenty years ago that the Japanese dealerships of the company be connected on the Internet. Toyoda rejected his idea.
Son explained that SoftBank, back then, was a "small company" reaching out to Toyota, the "giant stone". Now, the carmaker is asking for his help.