Toyota to enter self-driving cars market

Late 2015 Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda decided the company should move into self-driving cars, as the company’s goal had been ‘to make sure everyone can move around freely’. Toyota is the no.1 worldwide car company is sales with more than 10 million vehicles, with an estimated profit of $19 billion for 2015. Yet within the large company an anxiety arose around the company’s future, as the world in transportation has shifted a lot. Google is developing self-driving software, Uber has created a large platform basically allowing for car sharing with a driver and Tesla made electric cars a reality now many people believe in.  Mr Toyoda plans on producing self-driving cars hitting the road by 2020.

Initially, when Google launched its self-driving car project in 2009, Toyota was very negative about the concept. He said he would not even trust autonomous vehicles to drive around on a closed circuit. One of the reasons may be the potential liabilities, as Toyota had been hit hard by several large car recalls.

In 2012 the states of California and Nevada allowed testing of self-driving cars on public roads, drawing more attention to the phenomenon.  Google approached Toyota at that time for joint collaboration: Google would provide the software and Toyota would provide the hardware. Toyota did start a collaboration at that time, but started to work on a small scale on new technologies, such as self-parking cars. In 2014 Toyota established a team dedicated to self-driving cars.  Self-driving cars became hot, and next to Toyota also Nissan and Daimler announced their plans for self-driving cars.  Toyota decided it would change from just working on automation to help a driver drive more safely, to fully focus on developing self-driving cars.  Once announced, Toyota moved forward quickly: it announced a US$1 billion investment in a center located in Silicon Valley to study AI (artificial intelligence).  It hired experts in the field of robotics and right now there about 100  people working on the technology in Silicon Valley, and another 70 in Japan.  As with regular personal cars, Toyota plans to dominate the market of self-driving cars – future will tell if they will succeed or not.

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