Japanese automakers plan a record 2.95 trillion yen ($26.8 billion) in research and development spending for fiscal 2018 amid global competition and the encroachment of information technology companies onto their traditional turf.
The auto industry accounts for nearly a quarter of all R&D spending in Japan’s manufacturing sector
Much of this money will go into connected cars, automated driving, sharing and electrified vehicles — challenges so big that automakers are embracing cooperation to compete with bigger-spending companies like Google.
Car producing giants Toyota Motor, Nissan Motor, Honda Motor, Suzuki Motor and Mazda Motor are each putting forward their biggest R&D budgets ever. Mitsubishi Motors’ tally, its highest since a 2003 spin-off of truck and bus operations. Suzuki and Subaru have also joined the initiative. Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi launches $1 bln venture capital fund to invest in “new mobility”-technology
Subaru, will mark a roughly $1.3 billion increase on the year and a second straight annual rise.
Toyota has also set up with Mazda and Denso a separate business to develop core technologies for electric vehicles.Toyota works with Panasonic on batteries as well.
Toyota, which has earmarked $9.8 billion in R&D spending this fiscal year, is working with many partners. It announced in March the creation of a joint venture with group suppliers Denso and Aisin Seiki to focus on commercializing automated-driving software. The trio plans more than $2.7 billion in spending over the next few years.
Volkswagen’s figure reached 11.6 billion euros ($13.4 billion) in fiscal 2017.
Nissan has been developing a new electric model with a longer range by building on its experience with the mass-market Leaf. It is also collaborating with Japanese internet company DeNA on self-driving taxis. “Electrification and autonomous driving are highly compatible with each other,” Nissan President Hiroto Saikawa has said.
General Motors, which spent about $7.3 billion on R&D in fiscal 2017, revealed in late May that an autonomous driving unit would take $2.25 billion in investment from SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund.