General Motors, Honda and Cruise, GM’s self-driving subsidiary, have announced a new joint venture with plans to introduce a driverless taxi fleet in Tokyo by early 2026. The collaboration, outlined in a memorandum of understanding, will leverage the Cruise Origin self-driving vehicle.
While specific financial details of the joint venture have not been disclosed, GM’s CEO, Mary Barra described it as the “first of its kind” in the ride-hail business. With Japan facing ongoing driver shortages and a growing demand for more accessible forms of transportation, Barra believes the Cruise autonomous vehicles can provide a viable solution. Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt echoed this sentiment, pointing to Japan’s potential as one of the largest autonomous vehicle ride-hail markets globally, given its dense and highly populated cities.
“In addition to societal impact, the business opportunity is also exciting, as Japan represents one of the largest potential autonomous vehicle ride-hail markets in the world, with many dense, highly populated cities that have high transportation needs,” said Vogt. (via Detroit Free Press)
The Cruise Origin is bi-directional vehicle designed to accommodate up to six passengers in a face-to-face seating configuration. It is currently being manufactured at Detroit’s Factory Zero and Hamtramck and tested in Austin, Texas. GM has plans to produce around 500 Origins at Factory Zero as part of this joint venture’s launch.
GM acquired Cruise in 2016, with the company currently operating in San Francisco, Austin, and Phoenix, with plans to expand its robotaxi fleets to 12 additional U.S. markets. The company has faced some challenges. Earlier this year, it recalled the automated driving software in 300 vehicles following a collision with a bus in San Francisco.
Since then it has also reduced its San Francisco robotaxi fleet by half in response to investigations into two crashes. Cruise maintains that its safety record, encompassing over 5 million miles, outperforms human drivers and continues to cooperate with NHTSA investigations.