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Yamaha to Invest $100 Million in AI, Robotics, and Digital Tech

Yamaha DRiVE-X docking system
The Yamaha DRiVE-X intuitive docking system in the flagship Yamaha 275SDX

Yamaha Motor is continuing to make major investments in its future.

The company has announced a second Yamaha Motor Exploratory Fund, known as L.P II. - a 10-year fund based in the U.S. with a total purse of $100 million USD.

In a press release, Yamaha stated the fund is designed to allow Yamaha to target and acquire "startups with innovative technologies and ample business growth potential in the fields of transportation, robotics, data/AI, fintech/insurtech, and digital health and wellness."

The new fund comes on the heels of Yamaha's initial fund, L.P I, which was established in 2018 with a similar strategy. The overall aim is to expand Yamaha's corporate venturing capability while integrating new companies and technology into their growing portfolio, which includes marine, automotive, powersports, and related divisions.

Yamaha Motor Ventures (YMV) will be tasked with searching for companies to invest in.

YMV, for its part, is based in tech hotbed Silicon Valley, having first established its presence there in 2015. The corporate venture capital firm was behind the original L.P I, and will again be supporting L.P. II.

YMV also set up the Yamaha Motor Sustainability Fund in 2022 to prioritize emission strategies and carbon neutrality. At the time, Jim Aota, CEO of its corporate venturing unit, said: “We need to connect with the people/companies that we can share objectives. I do not think that $100m is not enough. I do not believe that only Yamaha Motor can deliver the result. We are happy to be an enabler to create the world where we want to save for our next generations.”

As for where YMV will allocate its new resources, the firm has announced a medium-term investment plan through 2024 that will focus on "new businesses" and "strategic" startups and companies that offer the potential to not only acquire new tech, but also to integrate them into Yamaha's existing core businesses.

Meanwhile, in July 2022, YMV managing director Anish Patel stated: “I think we’re going to take a broader view on things. We will stick to some of the original kind of focus areas around mobility, healthtech and agtech but we are adding fintech and insurtech to our thesis as well.”

Since those announcements, Yamaha has shown a rapidly increasing rate of tech development. In the marine industry, some of their biggest moves include the purchase smart tech company Siren Marine and increased R&D into alternative power sources like the development of a hydrogen engine for both marine and automotive applications.

Thus far in 2023, the company has also released their highest powered outboard motor to date, the XTO Offshore 450, and has allocated significant resources into upgrading and improving their intuitive and 'smart' technologies like the Helm Master EX Control System and the DRiVE-X docking system.

The Helm Master EX system is becoming increasingly popular in the marine industry thanks to its 'total vessel control' capability. The system allows users to easily maneuver, manipulate, and operate their vessel with the help of intuitive internal monitoring. The latest DRiVE-X docking system is expected to gradually be implemented into Yamaha's large fleet offering. For 2023, it is only available on Yamaha's flagship 275SDX.

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