Toyota president Akio Toyoda (left) and Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki. Photo courtesy JapanTimes.co.jp
Suzuki's car division is long-gone from North America, but soon the company's spirit will live on in future Toyota models, following the announcement of a tie-up that will see the two manufacturers collaborate on autonomous driving technology, safety systems and shared vehicle components.
The news comes from Automotive News, who reports the deal was born from a desire to keep both companies competitive in the face of rising product research and development costs. For Toyota, this marks the fourth such collaboration deal in recent years: a deal with Mazda brought the Mazda2 into the Toyota fold as a Yaris sedan; Toyota and Subaru worked together to create the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ sport coupes; and Toyota is currently developing another sports car based on a platform that will also underpin the BMW Z5, a successor to the Z4.
Another Reuters report said Suzuki stands to benefit from Toyota's expertise in hybrid and electric powertrains, while Toyota hopes Suzuki can help it break into the India car market. And while the two brands will share some components, their joint press release makes it clear the deal will be crafted to ensure it steers clear of antitrust and antimonopoly laws, and that the companies will remain competitors in markets where both brands operate. A joint press release said Toyota and Suzuki are in no rush to tie up capital, meaning the two brands will remain independent from each other, at least for the time being.
For Suzuki, Toyota is a bit of a rebound partner: in 2015, it broke off a deal with VW after it contended the German brand was more interested in taking over Suzuki, rather that collaborating with it.