Listen to this article
Cruise is working with GM and Honda to bring its autonomous robotaxi service to Japan. The companies have entered into a memorandum of understanding to establish a new joint venture to provide a driverless ride-hail service in Japan starting in early 2026.
In particular, Cruise plans to deploy its Cruise Origin vehicle. Co-developed with GM and Honda, the Cruise Origin is a purpose-built autonomous vehicle that can carry up to six passengers. It includes comfortable camp-fire seating and doesn’t have a steering wheel or pedals. GM will manufacture around 500 Origins for the launch of this new JV at Factory ZERO Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in Michigan.
“GM has always been invested in defining the future of transportation and that’s more true today than ever,” GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra said. “The benefits of AVs — from safety to accessibility — are too profound to ignore and through this important partnership with Cruise and Honda, we’re bringing forward innovation that leverages our expertise in cutting-edge software and hardware to help more people around the world get where they need to go.”
Pending government approvals, initial testing will begin next year, and commercialization will start in central Tokyo in early 2026. Afterward, the companies plan to subsequently expand and scale the service to areas outside of central Tokyo.
Cruise will coordinate and collaborate with various stakeholders in Japan, including national and local governments, and transportation service providers. The service aims to address a driver shortage in the country and offer a safer, more accessible form of transportation.
“There is an important and growing societal need for safe and accessible transportation in Japan that autonomous vehicles can provide a solution for,” Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said. “In addition to societal impact, the business opportunity is also exciting, as Japan represents one of the largest potential autonomous vehicle ride-hail markets in the world, with many dense, highly populated cities that have high transportation needs.”
“Honda is striving to create the ‘joy and freedom of mobility.’ Through our driverless ride service with Cruise and GM, we will enable customers in Japan to experience a new value of mobility, improve the quality of their mobility experiences, and offer the joy of mobility,” Global CEO of Honda Toshihiro Mibe said. “This will be a major step toward the realization of an advanced mobility society. Providing this service in central Tokyo where the traffic environment is complex will be a great challenge, however, by working jointly with Cruise and GM, Honda will exert further efforts to make it a reality.”
Earlier this month, Cruise announced that its robotaxis are now available to the public in Houston. The company will operate seven days a week from 9 PM to 6 AM in an 11 square mile area that covers the Downtown, Midtown, East Downtown, Montrose, Hyde Park, and River Oaks neighborhoods.
Houston marks the fourth city that Cruise has started public operations in, following San Francisco, Phoenix, and Austin. The company tests in four other cities, Charlotte, NC, Dallas, Miami, and Nashville. Cruise has been rapidly expanding its robotaxi operations in the last year.