Honda Motor Co. will spearhead its artificial intelligence efforts out of a new lab in Tokyo so researchers can work closely with its engineers to commercialize the technology.

Honda, based in Tokyo, will start the R&D center next year and combine existing AI teams in Silicon Valley, Europe and Japan at the downtown location, according to Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, president of the automaker's largely independent research arm.

In choosing Tokyo over Silicon Valley, the carmaker is betting closer interaction between its scientists and developers will lead to AI-enabled products that consumers want, he said in an interview.