Toyota Motor Corp is focusing more efforts on taxis, it is aiming for a large piece of the pie in the future of interconnected transportation. The large car manufacturer in Asia hopes to invest an extra 70 million USD into a cab-hiring app known as Japan Taxi. The app is managed by Kawanabe Ichiro an expert in the taxi industry. The partnership will involve data collect, and collaboration from linked taxi terminals.
The president of Toyota Motor Corp, Akio Toyoda envisages that Toyota has a major role to play in the future of transportation. He believes big data and cloud computing will change the way the industry operates and will provide new income streams during the current technological shift towards automated and electric cars, while he repositions Toyota from being a car manufacturer to a mobility services provider.
The Big question industry analysts are asking is, what is Toyota’s opinion on ride-sharing? Toyota investing in Japan Taxi, draws attention to Uber’s strategy and on-going expansion in the country.
The interesting thing is, Toyota also backs Uber. Toyota made undisclosed investments in Uber in 2016 as part of its partnership into ride-sharing. Toyota has also made previous investments of about 500 million Japanese yen in Japan Taxi via Mirai Creation fund.
Uber has made slow progress in Japan, as it accounts for below 1 percent of taxi rides in Tokyo monthly. Notwithstanding, Uber remain bullish about their prospects in Japan, Taiwan and other Asian countries, this is echoing the sentiments of Brooks Entwistle, Uber’s Asian head.
In the same light, Kawanabe, commonly referred to as the “Taxi Prince”, is trying to ensure that Uber doesn’t make inroads into Japan’s Taxi industry which is currently valued at 1.72 trillion Japanese Yen. Asides being the Head of Japan Taxi, Kawanabe is also the head of the Taxi federation in Japan, and also the head of the biggest taxi company in Tokyo, Nihon Kotsu Co.
Tests are currently being carried out using results from the data-collection devices that were installed in taxis in Tokyo. Data collected include, video and driving information which will make provision for dynamic maps to be constructed. This will go a long way in increasing the rate at which automated driving and other advanced driving features will be adopted.
Toyota hopes to produce autonomous cars that will be ready for use in 2020, and for commercial use in 2025.
Since its release in 2011, Japan Taxi app has recorded over 4 million downloads with 60,000 taxis currently registered on its platform, which translates to about 25 percent of taxis in Japan.
Toyota is also combining resources with Nihon Kotsu to accelerate the usage of “JPN Taxi”, a new model for taxis like the black cabs in London.
Back to question posed earlier, Toyota is invested in Uber while also trying to guard the taxi industry. It feels like they are looking to be present in both worlds.
丰田汽车去年对Japan Taxi的5亿日元投资是通过未来创投基金完成的，该基金同样由资产管理公司Sparx Group Co.和三井住友银行提供支持。Uber在日本还没有取得多大发展。
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