TOKYO — Japan’s auto industry is ramping up r&d investment to confront the once-in-a-century technological upheaval triggered by electrification, connectivity and autonomous driving.
Automotive companies grabbed the top four slots for the greatest amount of overall r&d spending this year in a survey of Japanese companies published July 23 by the Nikkan Kogyo business daily.
It is a measurement that more recently has been heavily slanted to electronics and consumer goods companies.
But this year, Japan’s biggest investor in the future was Toyota, with an r&d budget of 1.1 trillion yen ($10.13 billion) in fiscal year 2019, according to the Nikkan Kogyo.
Coming in second was Honda, which earmarked 860 billion yen ($7.92 billion).
Nissan was No. 3 with 550 billion yen ($5.06 billion), and the Toyota-affiliated global supplier Denso was the fourth-highest spender at 520 billion yen ($4.79 billion).
Their spending outpaced that of Japanese high-tech firms such as Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba, which once set the global standard for electronic gadgetry and digital creativity.
Automakers are boosting their r&d investment to bring some of that tech know-how in-house as they race to apply software systems and artificial intelligence to cars.
Sony had the nation’s fifth-biggest r&d budget; Panasonic was No. 7.
Other automotive companies were well represented across the top tier of the 189 Japanese companies surveyed. Aisin Seiki — another Toyota Group supplier — was No. 15, Mitsubishi Motors was No. 22, Mazda was No. 23 and Subaru No. 26.
Measured in a different way, Denso took top honors in Japan’s auto sector.
Denso spent the biggest chunk on r&d as a percent of overall revenue. Its budget represents 9.5 percent of sales, beating the other automakers and suppliers at the top of the list.