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Race for new technology dents Toyota's earnings

Automaker forced to invest despite flagging sales in China and US markets

The e-Palette concept car unveiled by Toyota Motor last year. The automaker envisions offering the fully autonomous vehicle as a delivery and ride-sharing platform. (Photo by Masaaki Kudo)

NAGOYA -- Toyota Motor's earnings took a hit last quarter due to the growing costs of developing connected and self-driving vehicles as Japan's largest automaker grapples with a fast-changing environment.

The results released Wednesday look solid at first glance, with group operating profit up 9% on the year for the nine months ended Dec. 31 thanks to brisk sales. But operating profit for the October-December period alone rose just 0.4% to 676.1 billion yen ($6.16 billion), marking Toyota's first quarter of sub-double-digit growth since April to June of 2017, when operating profit fell.

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