Auto majors Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and General Motors Co., as well as Cruise LLC, self-driving car company majority owned by GM, announced that they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to form a joint venture to begin a driverless ridehail service in Japan in early 2026.
Cruise Origin, jointly developed by GM, Cruise and Honda and purpose built for a driverless ridehail service, will be used for the service. The three companies plan to establish the new joint venture in the first half of 2024 pending regulatory approvals.
The driverless ridehail service is expected to be launched in central Tokyo in early 2026. The service will start with dozens of Cruise Origins, which will then be expanded to a fleet of 500 Cruise Origins.
The companies also plan to subsequently expand and scale the service to areas outside of central Tokyo.
Cruise Origin, a self-driving vehicle with no driver’s seat or steering wheel, features a vast cabin space that allows 6 people to ride simultaneously, facing-to-face.
In Japan, the new driverless ridehail service is expected to offer an entirely new kind of mobility experience. The companies target a wide range of customers, including business people, families, visitors and more, to use the service.
Cruise Origin will come pick up the customers at a specified location and drive them to the destination, entirely through self-driving. Customers through a dedicated app on their smart phones can complete the entire process from hailing to payment.
Kyle Vogt, Founder and CEO of Cruise, noted that all of its work scaling in dense urban US markets will position them well to address the huge opportunity for autonomous vehicles in Japan.
Toshihiro Mibe, Global CEO of Honda, said, “Through our driverless ridehail service, we will enable customers in Japan to experience a new value of mobility, improve the quality of their mobility experiences and offer the joy of mobility. … Providing this service in central Tokyo where the traffic environment is complex will be a great challenge, however, by working jointly with Cruise and GM, Honda will exert further efforts to make it a reality.”
In Japan, the Cruise Origin is scheduled to be on display for the first time at the Honda booth at the JAPAN MOBILITY SHOW 2023 at Tokyo Big Site.
Founded in 2013, Cruise makes self-driving cars. As per its website, Cruise has received $10 billion funding from major companies and investors, including GM, Honda, Microsoft, T. Rowe Price, and Walmart, increasing its valuation 30x since being founded.
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