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The Consumer Electronics Show is a prominent annual trade show, featuring annual displays of state-of-the-art technology. One of its highlights this year surprisingly came from Toyota. Although they’ve taken the lead in environment friendly technology among the world’s leading auto manufacturers with the Toyota Prius, they fundamentally still have a very conservative approach to business uniquely specific to Japanese coroprations. In spite of that, their display at the CET this was a perfect example of long term strategic thinking. This year at CET they presented a cutting edge vision of the future that’s both ambitious, but still grounded in careful long-term strategic thinking.
The project titled Woven City aims to create the city of tomorrow on a 175 acre patch of land at the base of Mount Fuji. Plans for the futuristic community include net zero emmissions, self-driving cars, a 5G wireless network and even smart homes using artificial intelligence. They’ve already begun construction, aiming to have it ready to accept residents as soon as 2021. Although its core community will mainly be comprised of Toyota developers actively working on the project, they still plan to make the city’s real estate available for purchase for up to 2,000 people at the initial launch. The city itself was designed by Danish star architect Bjarke Ingels, famous for his work on Google’s London and California headquarters, as well as his involvement in the new 2 World Trade Center in New York.
Toyota is looking for new options that’ll give their company more room for growth. While they still plan to keep auto manufacturing as their core business, they’re also exploring other subsets of the tech sector that synergise with their main activity: automated households, carbon neutral contruction, application of the 5G network in both transportation and at home. These are all industries with immense opportunities for expansion.
The Japanese corporation is keenly aware of the potential in adapting automotive electornics technology for uses ranging from managing housing applications all the way to managing entire city districts. The city’s being constructed on the site of a factory scheduled for closure. Consindering the fact that many of the new city’s residents will be developers working on the city itself, it could be seen as laying the groundwork for a massive scale research project. Having a team of 2,000 scientists and engineers constantly evaluate the city will give Toyota access to an immense set of data that’s practically unavailable to anyone else.
Urban planners in the future may use the experiences of Woven City as a blueprint while buying the refined technology from Toyota. This also gives Toyota the ability to distribute their hydrogen fuelled cars and associated technology in a broader range. It’s fascinating to see how auto manufacturers are acutely aware of the limitations of electric cars (such as battery life), yet they’re all still trying to develop their new models in that direction. Toyota on the other hand decided to go a different route. As an official partner of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, they’re also responsible for the transportation of athletes and they’re providing hydrogen powered cars for that purpose to raise public awareness.
Toyota’s stocks have seen a powerful rally in 2019. Although global tensions did have some effect on their stock prices, the trend still fundamentally points upwards. Even when price spiked in January 2020 it quickly corrected back to the trendline. In theory for someone looking to trade the stock in the short term, the ideal entry point would be along the trendline, however, its real value lies in its future potential. The developments described earlier in this article suggest that Toyota may develop a wealth of knowledge that other companies won’t have access to. From that perspective it could be considered more of a retirement stock. Their 2.5% dividend isn’t particularly high right now, however, it’s relatively stable, which is the main requirement for a stock that’s worth holding for a year or more.