Toyota will be investing at least $2.8 billion into the internal development of self-driving vehicle tech via a new venture being created with Denso Corp and Aisin Seiki Co, according to recent reports.
Toyota will reportedly be keeping a 90% stake in the venture, and the auto parts suppliers Denso Corp and Aisin Seiki Co will each be taking 5% stakes. The project will employ around 1,000 people, the company reports — some of whom will be new hires.
Speaking about the new venture, the head of it, James Kuffner, stated: “This company’s mission is to accelerate software development in a more effective and disruptive way, by augmenting the Toyota Group’s capability through the hiring of world-class software engineers.”
Reuters provides more: “Development comes as firms such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Tesla Inc give traditional automakers a run for their money in building self-driving and electric cars. English is set to be the main business language of the new venture, the statement said.”
That last bit is particularly interesting as it suggests that Toyota may be assuming that either self-driving vehicle markets will initially be clustered in North America and/or Europe, or that the best talent in the field is now located in English speaking regions.
It’s hard to say which, if either, is accurate, but it will be interesting to see if any notable figures in the field end up associated with the venture. Toyota’s pockets are, of course, very deep…
In related news, Toyota Research Institute’s venture capital division recently announced that it would be investing $11.5 million in seed funding into the Michigan-based self-driving shuttle startup May Mobility. Perhaps Toyota is beginning to take the threat of self-driving vehicle induced market-disruption seriously?
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