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Honda, GM, and Cruise to launch robotaxi in Japan

Today, General Motors, Cruise, and Honda announced a joint venture to launch a robotaxi service in Japan.

The companies plan to launch the service in central Tokyo in early 2026 with Cruise Origin vehicles. The service will launch with dozens of Cruise Origins. The companies plan to expand the service area beyond central Tokyo with 500 Cruise Origin vehicles.

GM CEO Mary Barra, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, and Honda Global CEO Toshihiro Mibe announced the deal at a press conference before the Japan Mobility Show 2023 in Tokyo. Others attended in person while Barra appeared virtually.

Given the high demand for taxis, Japan has the potential to be one of the largest AV markets in the world, Barra said. With driver shortages and a growing need for accessible transportation, the region needs new transportation options.

GM, Cruise, and Honda’s joint venture extends a longstanding partnership. Honda and GM began developing hydrogen fuel cell systems in 2013. GM and Honda collaborated for years to create the Cruise Origin, which debuted in January 2020. After two years, GM and Honda announced plans to co-develop affordable electric vehicles for North America in 2027.

“Our three companies developed the Origin together because we know it takes strong, dedicated companies with unique skillsets and a clear vision partnering on one common goal,” Barra said.

The Cruise Origin’s Japan debut follows a year of rapid growth and San Francisco incidents that have fueled opposition to the self-driving car company. Cruise expanded to 24 hours a day, seven days a week service in San Francisco and robotaxi services in Austin, Houston, and Phoenix in the past year after receiving the final permit. The company is also testing AVs in Dallas, Nashville, and Los Angeles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating Cruise’s autonomous vehicle system this week after several San Francisco pedestrian incidents. On October 2, a human-driven vehicle hit a Cruise robotaxi, trapping a woman underneath. That event is also under investigation by the SFPD.

According to a filing on the NHTSA website, Cruise vehicles “may not have exercised appropriate caution around pedestrians in the roadway,” prompting the preliminary investigation.

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