Toyota shares closed lower in the Asian trading session Friday, in line with the weaker market. The car maker announced plans to invest $2.8 billion in the development of self-driving vehicle technology, as the industry continues to grow its interest in that area.
The announcement follows news the Japanese car maker has plans to make ten electric vehicle models ready for the commercial market by 2020.
Toyota shares closed 2.43% lower JPY6,947. The Asian markets closed in the red amid investor concern over US President Trump’s steel and aluminium import tariff plans.
Toyota investment plans
Toyota said it would invest $2.8 billion in the research and development of autonomous vehicles, in a joint venture with two other firms. Aisin Seiki, Denso Corporation and Toyota have signed a memorandum of understanding on the plan.
Toyota will invest 90%, while the other two business will each invest 5%.
The Toyota Research Institute is the vehicle through which this venture will proceed. Plans of which will gain further clarity as the three companies seek to agree firmer details.
“Building production-quality software is a critical success factor for Toyota's automated driving program," said Dr. James Kuffner, the CEO of TRI.
“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. We will recruit globally, and I am thrilled to lead this effort,” Kuffner added.
The car manufacturing industry continues to evolve, as cleaner and more advanced technology becomes an increasingly major part of it. Greener and more efficient electric cars are becoming more popular with car makers and consumers.
Meanwhile, Toyota is also investing more funding into new tech start-ups to ensure it gains key knowledge of useful and relevant emerging technologies.
Its latest investment is May Mobility, in which Toyota AI Ventures will partner with BMW I Ventures to help fund the expansion of the self-driving shuttle service in Ann Arbor, Michigan.