Toyota Motor Corp. has been expanding its engineering research and development efforts so it can transform itself from an automaker into a mobility company — an effort that resulted in the company leading automakers in U.S. patent filings in 2017, according to Toyota.
Toyota was awarded 2,015 patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which was the most among automakers, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association. Toyota has been awarded the most patents for four years running.
While speaking at the annual shareholders meeting on May 9, president Akio Toyoda told investors he has implemented a plan to "redesign" the company with more emphasis on mobility investments in "a battle for building a future society of mobility and for putting smiles on people's faces in the future."
Toyota will focus on advancing new technologies to enable electrification, autonomous vehicles, and connectivity to help create a "better society of mobility," he said.
Toyoda, the great grandson of Toyoda Automatic Loomworks founder Sakichi Toyota, likened the company's planned shift to a time in the early days of the company when his family began producing automobiles rather than looms. He has served as president since 2009.
"I think circumstances today parallel those [from] 80 years ago," Toyoda said. "Kiichiro Toyoda took up the challenge of redesigning the Toyota Group from a corporate group making looms into a corporate group making automobiles."