Sony to Form Alliance to Build Taxi-Hailing System


Didi plans to stick to taxi-hailing in Japan for now as well.

While Uber has clashed with taxi rivals and regulators around the world, it has played by the rules in the archipelago, relegating its business to vehicle hires and a ride-sharing program for the elderly in a small rural town.

Sony's push comes at the same time that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who is now in Tokyo, is attempting to make new inroads into the Japanese market.

"It is clear to me that we need to come in with partnership in mind and in particular partnership with the taxi industry", he said without providing specifics. Amid heavy operating losses, Uber has retreated from some markets, including China and Russian Federation. Uber says its business now serves more than 15 trillion trips per day, globally.

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Uber is pulling the brakes on its service in Morocco, which will cease on February 23, as it waits (and hopes) for local regulators to accommodate app-based ride-hailing.

SoftBank is heavily present in the taxi market and recently took a 15-per cent stake in Uber. The deal will see Sony develop AI capabilities to support the existing Tokyo-based taxi companies. Moreover, Uber is aiming to hold an initial public offering as soon as next year, making it even more important for the CEO to highlight potential areas of future growth.

Shortly after the announcement, Khosrowshahi spoke of Uber's plans to push further into the market by striking its own partnerships. Although Uber has clashed with taxi rivals and regulators around the world, it has played by the rules in the archipelago, relegating its business to auto hires and a ride-sharing program for the elderly in a small rural town.

Uber still faces an uphill battle in Japan.

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And local players Nihon Kotsu and Daiwa Motor Transportation announced plans in January to trial a taxi-sharing service. Uber's Chinese rival Didi Chuxing past year began partnership talks with taxi operator Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co., with the discussions facilitated by Uber shareholder SoftBank Group Corp., a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in October. Each have effectively framed an organization with taxicab organization Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo.

Sony is planning to launch a smart ride-hailing service in its home country, Japan, leveraging artificial intelligence to handle demand and ensure proper operations.

Uber's head honcho made the remarks at an investment forum on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan.

The alliance comes as Uber Technologies Inc., the world's biggest ride-hailing startup, is in talks with another cab company as it tries to build its presence in the country.

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