Toyota Motor Corp. took the next step forward with its Woven Planet enterprise laying out its plans, in particular, what Woven Capital, the $800 million investment fund established last fall, will be doing.
The Japanese automaker offered an overview of the fund and Woven Planet’s overall strategies and products in a webinar hosted from the Woven Planet headquarters in Tokyo. James Kuffner, who heads up the group and is a director at Toyota, provided details about the high-tech offshoot’s three arms: Woven Core, Woven Alpha and Woven Capital.
Last fall, Woven Planet Holdings Inc. announced the formation of the three arms. The first of two operating companies under holding company, the former TRI-AD, will now be called Woven CORE Inc., and it will develop, implement and scale automated driving technologies.
The second company, Woven Alpha Inc., will search out new business opportunities and incubate innovative projects that go beyond today’s Toyota Motor Corp., such as Woven City and Automated Mapping Platform. Woven City is the automaker’s “prototype” city announced in January 2020.
However, it was Woven Capital that got most of the attention today. George Kellerman, managing director of Woven Capital, said it’s “an $800 million dedicated fund that exists to create a global portfolio of partners and technologies that will advance the vision of Woven Planet.”
The fund plans to invest in “growth stage companies” that make sense to partner with, such as a tech firms that can enhance the company’s autonomous vehicle development program or other sustainable practices that fit with Woven Planet vision.
Kellerman noted the company plans to invest in following areas: autonomous mobility, automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and analytics, connectivity and smart cities. The goal is to invest in companies or technologies that help customers, stakeholders and “society at large.”
No investments have been made yet, but the fund will operate for more than 10 years, and the first five will see the fund be the most active in terms of investing, said Hiroshi Saijo, Woven Planet’s vice president of business development and strategy.
While Woven Capital was the focus of the webinar, the company did address the initial reason for all of the effort: Woven City. The progress report for that was left to Daisuke Toyoda, son of Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda, who will be the top executive for Woven City.
“We must continue to pivot, change and evolve,” the younger Toyoda said. “Woven City is key for Woven Planet Group in that it will be a place where we demonstrate and implement our innovation under real circumstances.”
Designed to a real-world test lab for future mobility and urban connectivity, it was revealed in January 2020. The company will break ground on the 175-acre site at the base of Mount Fuji on Feb. 23, officials noted.