Japanese Mobility Supplier DENSO Opens $1.3M R&D Center in Plano

DENSO's Texas Innovation and Connected Service Center—strategically located near longtime partner Toyota North America—will become part of the company’s larger global R&D network and help advance its work in mobility and autonomous vehicles.

A Japanese global mobility supplier has invested $1.3 million to expand its Plano operations and open a state-of-the-art research and development center where it plans to innovate connected technologies and vehicle service solutions.

DENSO’s Texas Innovation and Connected Service Center is expected to support its long-term plan to create new value in the “future of mobility,” according to a statement.

The facility will strengthen DENSO’s longstanding relationship with Toyota North America, which is headquartered in Plano, and create new opportunities for “industry-advancing collaboration,” according to a release. DENSO opened a Plano sales office in 2017, and the proximity to Toyota North America played a role in the site selection.

DENSO works to develop technologies to ‘redefine transportation’

“This technical center, and our Texas employees, will play an important role as DENSO continues to develop advanced technologies that will redefine transportation,” David Williams, director of DENSO’s Texas Innovation and Connected Service Center, said in a statement. “We look forward to beginning work on new and exciting products that will undoubtedly enhance DENSO’s larger R&D ecosystem.”

Sixty employees from three of its groups are located at the site, including DENSO International America Inc. Sales and Engineering; DENSO Products and Services Americas Inc., which focuses on vehicle service parts and tools; and DENSO TEN, a subsidiary that produces automotive electronics.

The company’s operations in Plano are said to provide an environment that improves collaboration and efficiency as its teams work on connected technologies—both inside and outside of cars—and improve after-purchase customer experiences.

DENSO plans to prioritize attracting North Texas talent to the facility and plans to grow its Plano workforce in the coming years.

“DENSO’s expansion into Plano is key to our continued R&D growth on a global and regional scale and helps us advance our work with valued customers like Toyota,” Kenichiro Ito, senior executive officer of DENSO Corp. and CEO of DENSO’s North American headquarters, said in a statement. “Developing software solutions that enhance mobility means recruiting the right people for the task. This is why DENSO is invested in creating research labs across North America that employ the brightest and best of local talent.”

Toyota and others will help accelerate DENSO’s R&D work in Plano

Toyota North America and other DENSO customers plan to support the company’s R&D activities in Plano and generate new advancements in future mobility, connected technology, and vehicle servicing, according to a statement.

“Toyota and DENSO have long been known for being at the forefront of automotive innovation, often times doing so together,” Zack Hicks, chief executive officer and president of Toyota Connected North America and executive vice president and chief digital officer of Toyota Motor North America, said in a statement. “Through the Texas Innovation and Connected Service Center, we look forward to building upon that tradition and collaborating further to take the next step forward in a new era of mobility.”

In July, Toyota and DENSO announced a joint venture partnership to develop automotive semiconductors to be used in the next generation of connected and autonomous cars, according to Interesting Engineering. DENSO is already a supplier of parts to Toyota, while the new joint venture will begin business in April and employ roughly 500 people in Japan.

A ‘second founding’ philosophy propels DENSO forward

DENSO is addressing the transformation of mobility through its “second founding,” which expands its focus to software-based technologies and complements its history of hardware expertise, according to a statement.

Last year, Koji Arima, DENSO’s CEO, said the company “must change our own organization to prevail in the rapidly changing business landscape and provide value to our customers that goes beyond a vehicle-centric focus to enrich society’s broader need.”

DENSO is involved in many aspects of the mobility industry.

Five months ago, Uber confirmed it would spin out its self-driving car business after that unit closed on $1 billion in funding from Toyota, DENSO, and SoftBank’s Vision Fund, according to TechCrunch. The move allowed Uber to remove an unprofitable unit from its main business and help the company scale back some of it losses. It also gave Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group additional freedom to focus on bringing autonomous vehicles to market.

The company’s Plano facility supports those efforts, as do the recent openings of other R&D centers in Montréal, Canada, and Seattle, Washington.

Japan-based DENSO is a $48.3 billion global mobility supplier that creates advanced technology and components for “nearly every vehicle make and model on the road,” according to the company. DENSO has 221 facilities in 35 countries to produce thermal, powertrain, mobility, electrification, and electronic systems. It has more than 170,000 employees worldwide.

DENSO’s North American operations are headquartered in Southfield, Michigan.

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