Toyota Motor and SoftBank Group on Thursday announced plans to establish a new partnership to develop technology-based logistics and mobility services and ultimately autonomous mobility services in Japan.

In a joint news conference attended by Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda and SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son, the two companies said they would set up a new joint venture called Monet (mobility network) Technologies Corporation in Japan.

The new company, to be established by the end of the current fiscal year ending 31 March 2019, will provide coordination between Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) and SoftBank’s Internet of Things (IoT) Platform.

Initially Monet aims to optimise supply and demand in transportation with the launch of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) businesses that generate value through the provision of advanced mobility solutions, including just-in-time delivery services.

In the second half of the 2020s Monet aims to launch Autono-MaaS (autonomous mobility as a service) businesses using Toyota’s e-Palette electric vehicle developed specifically for mobility services.

The news came shortly after the announcement Honda is investing US$2.75bn to take a 5.7% stake in General Motors’ Cruise autonomous driving subsidiary. SoftBank also agreed to invest US$2.25bn in Cruise earlier this year.  

The race to bring to market autonomous driving vehicles is hotting up, with Chinese, European and South Korean automakers also investing heavily to bring self-driving cars to market in partnership with leading technology companies.

Daimler and Renault also announced at this week’s Paris show they are considering expanding their partnership in electric vehicle batteries, self-driving vehicles and mobility services. 

Other partnerships in this segment include Daimler’s collaboration with Bosch to develop autonomous taxis and the BMW partnership with FiatChrysler.

Toyota and SoftBank do not have any major partnerships in this segment to date but both have been developing self-driving, car-sharing and other mobility technologies independently.

Toyota and SoftBank have also invested in partnerships with Uber Technologies, Singapore-based ride-hailing firm Grab and China’s Didi Chuxing.