Toyota and Suzuki, Scared of Falling Behind, Eye Partnership

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
toyota and suzuki scared of falling behind eye partnership

This could be the start of a beautiful business partnership.

After its romance with Volkswagen AG ended in a bitter breakup last year, Suzuki is considering hopping into bed with the world’s largest automaker.

Toyota and Suzuki issued a joint press release today announcing their intention to get together and see where it goes.

The two automakers aren’t committing to anything at this point, only stating that both will “start exploring ideas that are directed towards a business partnership.”

Toyota overtook Volkswagen as the world’s largest automaker in September, but even industry leaders recognize their shortcomings. Both automakers cite increasing consolidation in the industry and the limitations of a single company’s R&D operations as the reason for the potential hook-up.

“In addition to efforts to tackle environmental and energy issues, as well as to ensure our customers’ safety and security, we are required to work on the R&D of advanced and future technologies, such as on automated driving,” said Toyota president Akio Toyoda in a release.

The executive admitted Toyota is “not really good” at creating alliances. Still, the automaker needs to “cover its bases” and create the “capability to respond to changes in order to survive,” he said.

While Toyota is strong in R&D, Suzuki knows small cars and emerging markets. In many ways, the potential partnership looks a lot like the Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance announced earlier this year. (In that deal, however, Nissan was Mitsubishi’s financial savior.)

Speaking at a joint press conference, Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki said the potential partnership was his company’s idea. A month ago, Suzuki approached Toyoda to talk collaboration.

Suzuki’s automotive operation is rooted in selling cheap minivehicles in Japan and India, which puts the automaker on shaky ground, the chairman says.

“Even in such countries, we have understood that there will be uncertainty in the future if we only continue to just refine our traditional automobile technologies which we have been working on thus far,” Suzuki stated.

Suzuki entered into an ill-fated alliance with Volkswagen in 2009, with the German automaker taking a 19.9-percent stake in its Japanese partner. The Love Boat then sailed directly into the rocks. There were reports of problems with joint projects and acrimony between both companies’ engineers and management, which spelled a quick end to the once-promising alliance. Other accounts, published by TTAC in 2012, place blame for the failed alliance directly at Osamu Suzuki’s feet.

An international arbitration court completed the divorce.

Oddly, the court ruled in Suzuki’s favor one month before Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal blew up in its face. Hearty laughs, no doubt, could be heard in Hamamatsu.

[Image: Toyota Motor Corporation]

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  • Guitar man Guitar man on Oct 12, 2016

    >>"Suzuki entered into an ill-fated alliance with Volkswagen in 2009, with the German automaker taking a 19.9-percent stake in its Japanese partner. The Love Boat then sailed directly into the rocks."

  • Brn Brn on Oct 13, 2016

    They say partnership, I say takeover. If this "partnership" goes well, Suzuki automobiles won't exist in ten years. They might have Suzuki branded motorcycles, but not cars.

    • See 1 previous
    • Brn Brn on Oct 13, 2016

      @Pch101 but....according to the article "Toyota is not really good at creating alliances"

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂