Fortune favors the bold.
The late Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, may go down in industry history for having the foresight and wisdom to see mergers and major partnerships between automakers as the only viable way forward in a rapidly changing industry. Although Marchionne didn’t knock on Toyota’s door seeking a merger (as far as we know), the Japanese automaker apparently paid due attention to his beliefs. No, Toyota is not merging with any other automaker, but according to Reuters it is seeking to be the leader of an all-Japan self-driving car joint venture.
Although no public announcement has been made, sources familiar with the matter claim Toyota will be receiving investment from Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki, Isuzu and its own Daihatsu division. Each company, alongside Toyota and SoftBank Corp, will "each take a stake of a few percent in the venture.” Called Monet, the venture’s goal is to bring all-electric autonomous vehicles to market.
Monet is currently developing an on-demand self-driving service platform that could make Japan a leader for the next generation of passenger vehicles. Already last March, Honda invested in the program so the inclusion of the other major Japanese automakers should not come as a big surprise. But still, it’s pretty clear what Toyota, the largest of the Japanese automakers, wants to do: be at the top of the chain for self-driving EVs and all associated platforms. It owns a 39.8 % stake while SoftBank Corp is the largest shareholder with a 40.2% share. As of this writing, it’s unknown how much those other brands are chipping in, but last March, following Honda’s involvement, total investment rose to $23.2 million.
Without question the amount has already increased and will continue to do so in the coming years. What happens next remains unknown. Chances are an official announcement of some sort will come, but we may not know how much Mazda, Subaru, and those other brands have individually invested and whether they’ll play any role on the tech side of things.