Toyota said Wednesday that net profit soared 50% in the third quarter, with the world’s top car manufacturer having made ¥838.7 billion in the three months to December, compared with ¥559.3 billion a year earlier. It also upgraded its full-year forecasts as the auto industry gradually recovers from the pandemic.
But the Aichi-based car giant isn’t resting on its laurels. Instead, it’s partnering with Aurora Innovation, a U.S. startup, with the aim of mass-producing autonomous vehicles and launching them on ride-hailing networks like Uber’s — in which Toyota is an investor — over the next few years, Bloomberg reports.
Toyota is also tapping a star Silicon Valley robotics expert to help put the final touches on an operating system it says will go up against Tesla’s. Called Arene, the system allows new features to be installed in a car’s existing hardware over the air and provides a platform for developers to create software.
Honda, meanwhile, is powering ahead with its own self-driving plans. The firm said last month it is collaborating with GM to launch a service using autonomous vehicles in Japan, with tests to start later this year. On Tuesday, Honda too boosted its profit outlook for the fiscal year, despite the chip shortage that is disrupting the auto industry’s supply chain.
Major global carmakers have been forced to cut back production recently as semiconductors have been diverted for use in gadgets to keep locked-down consumers entertained. With shortages set to continue, Mazda said last week it would cut output by 7,000 vehicles in February because of the chip crunch.
Unlike Toyota and Honda, Mazda is predicting red ink for fiscal 2020, as is Nissan, although both have trimmed their predicted losses. After years of faltering sales and fallout from the Ghosn affair, Nissan’s new top brass are looking for a way out of the rut. Some at Nissan want to focus on restoring the firm’s pre-Ghosn rep for top-notch tech — but as Bloomberg reports, it has a lot of catching up to do.