Honda, GM, and Cruise to launch autonomous ride-hailing in Tokyo
Photo courtesy of Honda

Honda, GM, and Cruise to launch autonomous ride-hailing in Tokyo

A collaborative effort between Honda Motor Co., General Motors Company (GM), and Cruise is set to revolutionise the urban transport landscape. The trio announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU), laying the groundwork for a joint venture aimed at rolling out an autonomous ride-hailing service in Japan by early 2026, with plans to formalise the new company by the first half of 2024, subject to regulatory approval.

The service will leverage the Cruise Origin, a vehicle co-engineered by the three companies, explicitly designed for autonomous ride-hailing. Users will hail rides and process payments via a dedicated smartphone app, enjoying a driverless journey from pickup to destination.

Cruise Origin stands out with its absence of a driver’s seat or steering wheel, offering passengers a spacious cabin akin to a private vehicle. It accommodates up to six passengers, facilitating face-to-face seating arrangements. Initially launching in central Tokyo, the service aims to cater to a diverse clientele, including business professionals, families, and tourists.

Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise, expressed enthusiasm about extending the autonomous service to Tokyo, building on the company’s experience in urban U.S. markets. GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, echoed this sentiment, emphasising the transformative potential of autonomous vehicles in enhancing safety and accessibility globally.

Honda’s Global CEO, Toshihiro Mibe, highlighted the venture’s alignment with Honda’s vision of amplifying the “joy and freedom of mobility.” The autonomous ride-hailing service, especially in Tokyo’s intricate traffic environment, is seen as a significant stride towards an advanced, inclusive mobility ecosystem.

The initial phase will see dozens of Cruise Origins navigating central Tokyo, with plans to expand the fleet to 500 vehicles and extend the service beyond the city’s core. This expansion is not just a business venture but also a response to societal challenges like the shortage of taxi and bus drivers in Japan.

The unveiling of Cruise Origin to the Japanese public is slated for the JAPAN MOBILITY SHOW 2023 at Tokyo Big Site from October 26 to November 5, offering a glimpse into the future of urban mobility.