General Motors and Honda are deepening their collaboration. Through its subsidiary for robotaxis, Cruise, both partners will start offering commercial driverless taxi rides in Tokyo as of early 2026, the first of its kind on the island. The news comes at a moment when the American Association for Highway Safety (NHTSA) started investigating pedestrian accidents with Cruise vehicles in the US.
The Japanese robotaxis will start their service in central Tokyo with a fleet of a few dozen vehicles called Origin, able to carry six passengers. These are new vehicles and co-developed between the partners.
So, they are different from the current taxis roaming the streets of San Francisco but will be built in the US. It is unknown whether they will operate under the Cruise name or the badge of the new joint venture for autonomous commercial rides in Japan. Subsequently, the fleet will be enlarged to 500 units, while the covered area will expand beyond Tokyo.
Nissan and Toyota will follow
The stakeholders claim they want to contribute “to solving the social problems facing Japan, such as the shortage of cab and bus drivers” due to the archipelago’s increasingly aging population. Compatriot brands like Nissan and Toyota have announced similar projects in the Japanese metropolitan area.
Commercial robotaxis have already been deployed in Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai. In contrast, San Francisco voted earlier this year to favor commercial ride-hailing by uncrewed taxis. The introduction of autonomous taxis isn’t without controversy, as they often cause traffic jams, unwanted stops, and even accidents.
Two pedestrians hit
In the US, the NHTSA has opened an investigation into the 594 self-driving cars of Cruise after two accidents involving pedestrians occurred in San Francisco. Earlier this month, a woman fell under a Cruise robot cab after being hit by it and had to be rescued by emergency services. The robotaxi braked but was unable to avoid the collision.
In another case, a pedestrian ignoring a red light was struck at 2 km/hour speed despite an evasive maneuver from the Cruise cab and was brought to hospital with a knee injury. According to Cruise, robotaxis cause fewer accidents than human-driven cars.
The move into Japan is a further example of the deepened ties between General Motors and Honda, which collaborate to meet the challenges of electrification, connectivity, and circularity.
With the Prologue, Honda has unveiled its Ultium-based SUV, sitting on an architecture from GM. In the next phase, both companies work on an affordable EV to go on sale in 2027 and invest in solid-state batteries together.