Industry Insights

Honda to Start Driverless Taxi Service in Tokyo

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (Honda) announced plans to launch a driverless taxi service in Tokyo, Japan, in early 2026. This move to develop driverless taxi service was made with General Motors Company (GM) and its subsidiary Cruise LLC, which is already testing its autonomous taxis in four US cities. The venture is to help mitigate the labor shortages in Japan’s aging society, such as the taxi and driver shortages, said Honda.

Co-developed by the self-driving car operator, Cruise, will set up the venture in 2024 in Japan, with Honda taking a majority stake. The ride-hailing service will use a self-driving car known as the Cruise Origin, jointly developed by the three partners, the automakers said.

“Honda has been a key partner with Cruise for several years and we’re excited to offer safer and more accessible transportation to customers in Tokyo. All of our work scaling in dense urban US markets will position us well to address the huge opportunity for autonomous vehicles in Japan,” said Kyle Vogt, Founder and CEO of Cruise.

To use the self-driving car ride-hail service, users will have to use an app on their smartphones to ride the car, just like other e-hailing car services like Grab, one of the top e-hailing services in Malaysia. Different from the usual e-hailing service experience, there will be no drivers and in addition to that, there will be no driver’s seat and no steering wheel. The “vast cabin space” feature will allow six people to ride in the car face-to-face with each other, targeting business people, families, visitors and more.

Image of self-driving car, the Cruise Origin, from Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

The Cruise Origin will be displayed soon in Japan at the Honda booth at the JAPAN MOBILITY SHOW 2023 at Tokyo Big Site, which is scheduled to be open to the media on 25 October and to the public from 28 October 2023.

The taxi service that will be available in the future is planned to expand to a fleet of 500 Cruise Origins, starting with dozens of Cruise Origins. The service is also to be expanded outside of Tokyo.

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