The two Japanese firms have announced that they “have agreed to start exploring ideas directed towards a business partnership.”
Such a potential tie-up would bring benefits to both sides. Suzuki is renowned for its expertise in producing small cars, notably 4x4s, while Toyota has the research and development muscle in advanced and future technologies that are fast becoming essential in the automotive market.
“The industry is required to work not only on conventional automobile research and development, but also on R&D for advanced and future technologies in fields such as the environment, safety and IT,” the two manufacturers say in a joint statement.
“In addition to the work conducted by individual companies, it is increasingly important to work together with other businesses in areas such as infrastructure development and the setting of new industrial standards.”
The statement adds that Suzuki feels “increasingly uncertain” in the face of the research that is going into future technologies in cars, such as in safety, infotainment and environmental awareness. Whereas Toyota feels that it may be behind rivals in partnering up with companies to make the most of its research.
“As the environment which surrounds the automobile industry has been changing drastically, we need to have the ability to respond to changes in order to survive,” says Toyota president Akio Toyoda.
The two add that they might be open to other manufacturers joining them in a collaboration. Toyota has better experience of such tie-ups – most recently for example it has undertaken a joint programme with BMW that will produce the next BMW Z5 and Toyota Supra as hybrid cars.
Suzuki, however, famously broke off a joint venture with Volkswagen in 2015, with recriminations on both sides and the Japanese brand buying back the one-fifth stake the German giant had taken in it.
No details are available yet on what kinds of cars the new potential tie-up might produce – these will likely emerge as discussions between the two continue.