Toyota and Suzuki Motors are making a partnership in eco technology area.
The world’s top automaker Toyota Motor and small rival Suzuki Motor Corp., which specializes in tiny vehicles, are tying up in a partnership, the two automakers said Wednesday.
Both sides announced that they will study areas where they can work together in developing technology for the environment, safety and information networking. They said such areas are likely to benefit from a partnership since the industry is changing rapidly in those sectors.
Toyota and Suzuki said they will continue to compete in other ways. They expressed hopes other automakers will join the partnership to help work toward an industry standard in such areas.
At a joint news conference in Tokyo, Toyota President Akio Toyoda and Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki both stressed that behind their tie-up was a sense of crisis about rapid technological changes in the auto industry, especially in the information technology field.
Suzuki’s “future is at risk” unless the automaker takes steps to deal with the speed of changes, the carmaker’s chairman said.
Asked about a possible capital tie-up, Toyoda denied that any specific plan is under discussion, adding that talks on a range of issues would also begin.
Suzuki specializes in minicars, which benefit from tax breaks in Japan and are reputed to boast good mileage. But it has acknowledged problems with its emissions tests in Japan after Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said it had cheated on such tests.
Suzuki denied violating any laws, but the government ordered all automakers to re-examine their emissions tests after the Mitsubishi scandal.
Suzuki does not have a hybrid, electric car or fuel cell vehicle in its lineup.
The move comes after Nissan Motor Co., the country’s second-largest carmaker, decided in May to take a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors. The deal effectively puts Mitsubishi, Japan’s sixth-biggest automaker, under the wing of Nissan.
Other carmakers in Japan may also face the need to step up efforts to boost tie-ups with their rivals, as hefty costs to develop advanced technology makes it tougher for smaller auto manufacturers like Suzuki to keep up with competitors.
“Toyota is the industry-leading and most reliable company that is actively working on various advanced and future technologies,” Suzuki said in a joint statement issued earlier in the day. “I am appreciative that Suzuki is able to start discussions with Toyota to explore ideas on a partnership,” he added.
Toyota leads the world in selling gas-electric hybrids, headed by the Prius, and it is also working on fuel cells and electric vehicles. Emissions regulations are tightening around the world, amid growing concerns about the environment and global warming.
Self-driving automobiles are all the rage in the industry, although the use of artificial intelligence in cars on the roads has had mixed results. Toyota tends to be more cautious than its rivals in commercializing the technology, but all the world’s automakers are competing intensely in that research. Suzuki forged a business and capital alliance with Germany’s Volkswagen AG in 2009. But last year, the dissolution of the alliance was approved by the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, as sought by Suzuki.
Toyota, meanwhile, also agreed with Mazda Motor Corp. in 2015 to expand their partnership to cooperate in promoting technologies to improve fuel efficiency and safety.