By on February 6, 2017

2004 Suzuki Verona in California wrecking yard, grille badge - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Suzuki and Toyota Motor Corp. have agreed to begin official talks on pushing their partnership further. The partnership memorandum announced today covers a wide range of issues crucial to developing and producing automobiles, while keeping Suzuki independent as an automaker. Toyota is apparently not interested in corporate control. The automaker showed a similar gentle touch in its partnerships with Mazda Motor Corp. and Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries.

Instead, the two companies have agreed to start brainstorming on how to best collaborate on advanced safety systems, environmentally friendly tech, information technology, overlapping components, and shared product. 

Suzuki has fallen behind in research and development. While it has proven it can produce some of the best-value motorcycles and Kei cars in all of Asia, it isn’t on track for autonomous driving, electric powertrains, or even stringent emission regulations. It has spent a long time seeking a partner to help bring it up to speed technologically.

Meanwhile, Toyota gains access to Suzuki’s well-established supply network in India. The country is expected to become world’s third-largest car market by 2020, and Suzuki dominates that market right now. Toyota wants to double its own share of India’s passenger vehicle market to 10 percent by 2025, and the best way to accomplish this goal is to get Suzuki to help it produce and distribute simple, extremely affordable, and very small cars.

The two became chummy after Suzuki broke its alliance with Volkswagen AG due to repeated disputes over sharing technology (and downright nasty issues between upper-management). While that partnership ended in a lot of bad blood, a joint release by the Toyota and Suzuki suggests the companies are eager to establish a framework for the partnership and get the ball rolling.

“In response to Toyota’s display of enthusiasm, Suzuki also intensively engaged in the discussions, and we now stand at the starting point for building a concrete cooperative relationship,” Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki said in the official statement. “I want to give this effort our fullest and to aim at producing results that will lead Toyota to conclude that it was the right thing for Toyota to have decided to work together with Suzuki.”

[Image: ©2016 Murilee Martin – The Truth About Cars]

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12 Comments on “Suzuki to Increase Ties With Toyota, Maintain Its Independence...”

  • avatar

    Suzuki is like a good kid you knew in grade school. He tried, all his life. And, he did good at some points, but never quite made his star as bright as it ought to have been.

    He screwed up a little after high school, started running with these bad Korean dudes, and then attempted to leave that life. He tried one last time on his own to make it, you hoped…but he just disappeared.

    You kinda forgot about him until you’re at a busy parking lot, you swear you catch a glimpse of him going around the far corner and then, out of sight.

    Now you hear he’s moved away, ended his terrible but short marriage to his indifferent, cold, always-plotting German wife and is dating again.

    You’re happy for him and hope he’s going to live up to his potential, even if he’s not here to slap on the back.

  • avatar

    IMHO, the VW Suzuki partnership was THE WORST Automotive Alliance ever.

    Almost 20% of Suzuki exchanged hands onto VW and they could NOT produce one measly vehicle together. Not even an engine. Not even a concept, Nothing AT ALL! (Except millions in lawyer billings across two continents)

    The reason Suzuki wanted VW was to get some better engine tech, specifically hybrid tech, because Suzuki has NONE yet out there and better car electronics. Suzuki makes pretty decent vehicles. I have a Kizashi, and it is outstanding – but it could use a better, newer engine, less thirsty and electronics are a very weak spot. Same for Hybrid technology, Suzuki has nothing yet, which is what they really wanted from VW. Their cars are the perfect size to be Hybrids. Even Mitsu had hybrid PHEV and its small iMIEV, but Suzuki really has nothing in the electric car department.

    Poor Suzuki, every partnership they try ends up like shit:

    The GM-Suzuki partnership had very good days (Geo Metro and Tracker) but when GM forced Suzuki to sell Daewoo crap under its own name in the US, it was too much and it damaged the Suzuki brand.

    You can even see the long term data on the cars Suzuki made (Good stuff) vs the Daewoo rebadges (utter crap. That’s why I don’t trust the daewoo-made Cruze just yet) so they left GM in shame. Then they went to VW, just to get jerked around for two years.

    Let’s hope Toyota treats them better. But I am not holding my breath.

    • 0 avatar

      How do you know “GM forced them!”? They owned a 20% stake in Suzuki at the time, and Suzuki invested into the company created when GM took over Daewoo. Suzuki bought a 14% stake.

      Suzuki had shares in Daewoo, tried to be Mitsubishi and pander to the lowest common denominator in North America with §hit-cheap cars. It didn’t last.

      I don’t know what if any role GM had in “forcing” Suzuki into anything. They gained some cheap manufacturing and US-ready products that they could sell dirt cheap under a somewhat-known brand.

      Suzuki had limited resources, it didn’t have time or the ability to develop a fresh lineup for North America. The Kisashi was a great step, just taken too late.

      I don’t think GM held a gun to their head. If you know otherwise, fine, but I believe “GM is always wrong” is tired.

      Would you rather they have given them Cobalts to rebadge? LOL

      The Cruze is not MADE BY DAEWOO. For God’s sake!

      1)Daewoo is not Daewoo, its GM’s Korean arm. It is GM. Chevy is GM. The Cruze is a Chevy designed by GM. Mmmkayy? Now, please find me a North American Cruze with a Korean VIN.

      2)The Cruze was designed as a global effort, like the Fusion/Mondeo. Like that car, one area may have contributed more and some less, it has to be done by somebody, and given that they’re both good cars, those somebody’s were obviously qualified no matter what country they were located in.

      3) its pretty accepted that the original Cruze, which was designed earlier in GM’s control of the company, is a good car.
      It is not a Suzuki Reno (as are the Sonic and Spark. Accept this. The redesigned Cruze doesn’t sound like it is either.

      Everybody wanted the US to bring back small good cars. They found a way to do it successfully and to not lose money. But, they’re still dead wrong. Because not Toyota. Even thought Toyota’s small cars are terrible unless Mazda did it for them.

      • 0 avatar

        Deawoo (along with Opal) had a big hand in designing the Cruze, as mentioned in the Wikipedia article. GM Korea also developed the Sonic. GM did not have a competitive small car (read Cavalier, Cobalt) and wanted to build one without partnering with someone else. Daewoo was in financial straights,since their cars weren’t doing well. GM (and Suzuki) stepped in to “save” them. GM now had access to a small car they could call their own, the Daewoo Lanos, which GM redid and called the Aveo. From there they have since designed the Cruze and Sonic.

        To be honest, GM wanted to pull ota.ut of NUMMI, their joint venture with Toyota. It was partly Toyota that kept the plant open longer.

        GM did do Suzuki wrong in the US market.

    • 0 avatar

      It will be different with Toyota. They should have worked together a long time ago.

  • avatar

    So small Suzuki’s return to USA as small Toyota’s?

    Toyota doesn’t seem to have much interest in small vehicles lately (i.e. – Mazda 2 returns as Scion iA/Yaris iA.)

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    My Grand Vitara and still owned SX-4 crossover have been the most reliable vehicles I have owned. Neither had unscheduled maintenance or warranty repairs through the 10+ years I have owned them.

    Now, for my hanger queen C-Class and roadside queen BMWs……..

    So, I’d love to see Suzuki back.

  • avatar

    Same here. Our ’06 Grand Vitara, bought new, is by far the most reliable vehicle I’ve ever owned. And stunningly good the worse the road conditions get. And faster 0-40mph than the V6 Rav4.

  • avatar

    Authentic Japanese Suzukis are very good cars. Just not by the American definition of “good.”

    The American definition of a good car since around the mid 2000’s has been something that makes the driver look either cool/wealthy/smart, reliable and refined. In the third-world, which puts bread on their table and for their Japanese buyers, it’s reliability, reliability and reliability.

    My uncle bought a 2002 XL-7 which he has since sold. For a weirdo like me who loved the honest practicality of 1980’s-1990’s Japanese cars, I thought it was wonderful, although it would piss off anyone who wanted something like a CR-V or RAV4 since it was trucky, a gas guzzler with quaint mismatching interior fixtures that had the appearance that Suzuki stuck in whatever worked.

    Was reliable and tough as hell though. I’d love for Toyota to import the Swift as a Starlet or something. Me thinks Suzuki might have had a better chance of staying alive if they would have just imported the Swift instead of wasting all that money to create the goofy Kizashi.

  • avatar

    My brother’s experience with his Japanese-built ’02 XL7 (4wd, 2.7L V6, 5spd manual) has been mostly positive, and fits his needs very well. It has a unique combination of BOF toughness and true off-road capability, with very stable car-like RWD handling and lower center of gravity. Rides very well thanks to the longer wheelbase and isolation of BOF construction. Ultimately limited by the lower ground clearance and mediocre breakover angle offroad, I’ve seen it scramble up some stuff it had seemingly no right to. Decent power with the 5spd, the automatics are dogs. Suspension has held up like a champ to quite a bit of dirt road and In the negatives I will put timing-chain tensioner issues that necessitated a 10-hr operation to replace. The curse of the sub-3.0L V6 I suppose :p

    Trackers/Vitaras of all generations including the older stubby 2dr variants were thick on the ground in Costa Rica, their design fits the locale to a ‘T’ over there. Our own rental Diahatsu Terios was likewise a perfect fit the for the job, if only lacking a lower-range gear set for the steep and narrow dirt roads that climb up into the hills. I also suspect in longer term use, the BOF Trackers hold up better in terms of body integrity and sqeaks/rattles and such.

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