Toyota R&D Creating $800 Million Investment Fund

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On Thursday, Toyota Motor Corp.’s research division announced it would create an $800 million global investment fund. While important news, Toyota’s dispatch was expected. The business had previously mentioned it was assembling a new holding company called Woven in July, noting that the entity would be focused on heavily upon software development and finding new partners for its most advanced projects.

Most of those seem to be in support of the “mobility as a service” concept that seeks to remove customers’ ability to own vehicles. The rest are interested in promoting alternative energy solutions or social engineering how we’ll be living in the future via “smart cities.” The fund also seems to be helping replace Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD). In fact, the Japanese R&D arm was actually the one that announced the $800 million “global growth-stage investment fund” that officially creates Woven Capital.

Woven has been the title used for several new projects Toyota is working on under the banner “Mobility to Love, Safety to Live” as it hunts for powerful corporate partnerships. “Woven Capital’s investments will enable us to weave together a global portfolio of partners and technologies that will deliver long-term value to our customers, stakeholders, and society,” said James Kuffner, CEO of TRI-AD. “Woven Capital will also enable us to make growth-stage investments in companies in the Toyota AI Ventures portfolio as they look to raise additional capital.”

The automotive industry has been talking way too much about how it’s prepared to improve society lately. It’s getting genuinely creepy and makes Woven seem more like a giant cooperation that’s preparing to force its will upon the population and less like a company that’s seeking solutions to how to make cars more energy-efficient or better at driving themselves. Perhaps firms like Toyota are just bored.

Since we discussed the composition of Woven previously, we’ll abandon the minutia for the essential items. The Woven Planet Holdings Group is broken down into three arms. Woven Capital will be focused on investing in (or just buying) growth-stage companies that are developing innovative technologies and business models that Toyota might find useful or simply doesn’t want to compete with. Meanwhile, Woven CORE and Woven Alpha will be focused on developing new products and features as they relate to vehicular connectivity and all that other mobility crap you’re probably sick to death of. They’ll also be helping out with more bizarre programs like the prototype smart city Toyota is building at the base of Mt. Fuji.

Kuffner will continue leading all three companies from the development institute’s home office in Tokyo. He was also added to Toyota’s management board in June to prove how serious the automaker was about breaking new technological ground and evolving the company. Despite numerous programs already underway, Woven Planet projects won’t officially commence until January 2021.

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