By Naomi Tajitsu
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Toyota Motor Corp and Panasonic Corp said they plan to establish a joint company to develop "connected" services to be used in homes and urban development.
The tie-up deepens the partnership between the companies, which in January announced a joint venture to build electric-vehicle (EV) batteries, pooling the R&D and manufacturing strengths of one of the world's largest automakers and battery makers to compete in the fast-growing EV market.
In their latest venture, Toyota and Panasonic said they will set up a new company early next year to focus on technology that could be used to offer personalised services in the home. The pair plan to be 50-50 partners in the new firm and will increase cooperation at their respective housing operations in Japan.
"We will put our respective strengths together to offer new value in everyday life," Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga said in a joint statement on Thursday.
The move comes at a time when lower-emissions vehicles and ride-sharing services have opened up the auto industry to new competitors, leaving traditional car makers and their suppliers scrambling to find alternate revenue streams.
Toyota has been developing connected cars that can share information on usage - data that could be leveraged for on-demand ride-sharing, insurance and maintenance.
The automaker has said it will tap into its partner network and its operations which range from building and selling cars, homes and companion robots to expand into new transportation and home energy services.
"If we are able to use this network going forward not only to manufacture and sell vehicles but to also provide new services, our future possibilities will greatly expand," President Akio Toyota told reporters on Wednesday.
"In addition to cars, I think that having our own housing business and connected business will be a big advantage for us."
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Stephen Coates and Himani Sarkar)