EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is from the "Redesigning the Industry" series by Automotive News, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe. The series looks at how the industry is being reshaped with the entry of disruptive innovators such as Google's Waymo in autonomous driving, Uber in ride-hailing and Amazon in retailing. It examines how traditional auto companies are responding to the challenges. For the full series, click here.
In late August, Toyota announced a blitz of curious investments.
It channeled millions of dollars into a clutch of obscure Japanese startups with names such as Giftee, Nightley and Ateam that work on everything from online marketing to cybersecurity.
Just what did the Japanese juggernaut see in these relatively unknown tech newcomers?
The answer lies in an internal conviction that Toyota has grown too big and ossified to react quickly to the new technologies buffeting the industry. Even Japan's biggest and richest carmaker, the thinking goes, needs smaller, nimbler partners with the expertise it lacks.
Convinced that his company's unbridled size is a liability, President Akio Toyoda is leading a change in corporate culture to create a new Toyota with the mindset of the world's biggest little startup.