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 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, the companies said today in a joint statement.
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 the statement. "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 companies have yet to decide whether a possible business partnership will include a capital tie-up, Toyoda told a news conference today.
The carmakers cited technological challenges and the need to keep pace with rising consolidation in the global auto industry. They also referred to difficulties Suzuki is having in research and development, as well as Toyota's prowess in the area.
"R&d in the auto industry is changing rapidly," Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki told the news conference. "The future looks perilous."
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