Toyota, Suzuki explore technology partnership

Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:57am EDT
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By Naomi Tajitsu

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote) and Suzuki Motor Corp (7269.T: Quote) said they plan to explore a possible partnership, citing technological challenges and the need to keep up with consolidation in the global auto industry.

Toyota invests heavily in R&D for automated driving functions and artificial intelligence for mobility purposes while cost-conscious Suzuki, which specializes in affordable compact cars, has yet to announce major strategic plans on how to compete in new automotive technologies.

Both companies said that they had just begun discussing possible cooperation so nothing was decided about areas in which they might collaborate.

However Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki said his firm was struggling to keep pace with the breakneck speed of R&D, telling a news conference "R&D in the auto industry is changing rapidly. The future looks perilous."

A partnership between Toyota and Suzuki would be the latest in an increasingly consolidating auto industry. Nissan Motor Co. (7201.T: Quote) in May announced it was planning to take a controlling stake in embattled Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T: Quote).

A partnership Suzuki had with Germany's Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) ended on a sour note last year, after the German carmaker accused it of violating their pact by agreeing a diesel engine deal with Italy's Fiat.

Toyota completed a buyout of Daihatsu Motors earlier this year. The world's largest automaker by vehicle sales in 2015 said last week it will set up a company with Daihatsu to focus on emerging markets.

Suzuki, Japan's fourth-largest automaker, competes fiercely with Daihatsu in the domestic market and dominates the Indian market through its majority stake in Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MRTI.NS: Quote). Both firms concentrate on smaller vehicles.   Continued...

Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda (L) shakes hands with Suzuki Motor Chairman and CEO Osamu Suzuki at their joint news conference in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2016.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai