Denso, the world’s third largest auto parts supplier by revenue, said that it would invest around $1 billion into manufacturing advanced safety systems and electric and hybrid powertrains at its production plant in Maryville, Tennessee.
“This is an investment in the future of Denso, and also the future of transportation,” said Kenichiro Ito, chief executive of the Japanese firm’s American division, in a statement. “We are seeing dramatic shifts in the role of transportation in society, and this investment will help position us to meet those changing demands.”
The investment came after Denso announced in August that it would create a new firm to create autonomous driving chips that efficiently crunch large amounts of data from cameras and other sensors as well as wireless communications with other cars on the road. Since it is starting from scratch with less than a million dollars of funding, it plans to start mass producing chips in 2025.
Other suppliers are laying the corporate groundwork to supply autonomous driving systems for electric cars. Delphi plans to fold its software, computing, and networking businesses into a new firm called Aptiv, which will be led by Delphi’s current chief executive Kevin Clark and operate separately from Delphi’s powertrain business.
Delphi has also partnered with BMW, Intel, and Mobileye to share costs in the development of fully self-driving computer systems by 2021. Magna International, the largest auto parts supplier in North America, is also working with them to customize the system so that it can be easily integrated by multiple automakers.