June 27, 2019 / 2:21 AM / 24 days ago

SoftBank, Toyota's self-driving car venture to add five more automakers: sources

FILE PHOTO: A mock-up 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. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - The self-driving car joint venture of SoftBank Corp and Toyota Motor will receive investment from a further five Japanese automakers, two sources familiar with the matter said, broadening backing for the all-Japan effort.

Mazda Motor Corp, Suzuki Motor Corp, Subaru Corp, Isuzu Motors and Toyota unit Daihatsu will each take a stake of a few percent in the venture, the sources said.

With the move to autonomous driving and electric vehicles creating ructions across the industry and spawning once unlikely partnerships, the venture, Monet, which is developing an on-demand self-driving service platform, hopes to help Japan’s auto industry ride the shift.

Monet, announced in October, added investment from Honda Motor Co and Toyota’s truck making subsidiary Hino Motors in March, leaving SoftBank Corp the largest shareholder with a 40.2% share and Toyota owning 39.8%.

When Honda and Hino joined in March, the total investment in Monet was 2.5 billion yen ($23.20 million). It was not immediately clear how much the five new partners are investing in the venture.

Monet declined to comment on the investment, which was first reported by Nikkei. Mazda, Suzuki, Subaru, Isuzu and Daihatsu also declined to comment.

The venture’s head told Reuters earlier this month it was planning to expand its investor base. Monet hopes to export a basic version of the service to Southeast Asia in 2020 and aims to roll out on-demand bus and car services in Japan in the next year.

($1 = 107.7500 yen)

Additional reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Writing by Sam Nussey; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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