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Toyota, Suzuki explore green car, technology partnership



TOKYO – Toyota Motor and Suzuki Motor have agreed to explore collaboration in green cars, safety and information technology.

The collaboration would try to leverage Suzuki’s strengths in low-cost, small cars and Toyota’s strengths in advanced r&d and larger vehicles, the companies said today in a joint statement.

The partnership is premised on the understanding both companies will continue to compete as rivals and that both companies are free to team with other companies, they said.

The collaboration comes a year after Suzuki broke off its alliance with Volkswagen Group amid disputes over sharing technology and corporate control. Toyota, which already has alliances with Mazda Motors and Subaru-maker Fuji Heavy Industries, has a history as more light-handed partner than Volkswagen that may mesh better with Suzuki’s management.

“Toyota is the industry-leading, and the most reliable company which is actively working on various advanced and future technologies,” Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki said in the statement. He said he first spoke about a partnership with Toyota with Honorary Chairman and former President Shoichiro Toyoda, the father of current CEO Akio Toyoda.

Akio Toyoda said teamwork was necessary as the industry faces a changing environment. “We need to have the ability to respond to changes in order to survive,” Toyoda said. “In addition to the r&d which each company is working on individually, it is very important now to have partners who share the same goal and passion.”

The automakers did not mention plans for a capital tie up or other details. The companies were scheduled to hold a joint press conference this evening local time in Tokyo.

The announcement comes after Toyota completed a buyout of minivehicles maker Daihatsu Motors earlier this year. Toyota said last week it will set up an internal company with Daihatsu to focus on emerging markets.

Suzuki, Japan’s fourth-largest automaker, also specializes in minivehicles and competes fiercely with Daihatsu in the domestic market.

Both Daihatsu and Suzuki manufacture and market cars in emerging Asian countries, with Suzuki dominating the Indian market through its majority stake in Maruti Suzuki India, while Daihatsu has been expanding in Malaysia and Indonesia through separate joint ventures.

A partnership between Toyota and Suzuki would be the latest in a consolidating auto industry. Nissan Motor in May said it was planning to take a controlling stake in embattled Mitsubishi Motors.

Reuters contributed to this report

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com. — Follow Hans on Twitter



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