Nearly nine months after denying that such a tie-up was taking place, Toyota and Suzuki have announced an agreement to explore ideas pertaining to a business partnership. This comes months after the latter finally ended a bitter four-year joint-venture with Volkswagen.

On the outset, the collaboration is similar in scope to the previous one, with Suzuki benefitting from Toyota’s extensive research and development in terms of environmental friendliness, safety and information technology – Suzuki is said to be feeling a growing “uncertainty” in the face of an increasingly technologically-advanced R&D field.

In return, Suzuki will work with Toyota on creating new industry standards, as the latter “is conscious of the fact that it may be behind competitors in North America and Europe when it comes to the establishment of standardizations and partnership [sic] with other companies.” Both companies are claimed to be open about the possibility of other companies entering the partnership, aiming for standardisation in the industry.

Suzuki and Toyota have agreed to continue competing with each other in a fair and independent manner – particularly important considering that Suzuki not only competes with Toyota in certain market segments, but is also playing at the same compact car sector as Toyota’s subsidiary Daihatsu.

“Toyota is the industry-leading, and the most reliable company which is actively working on various advanced and future technologies,” said Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki. “I am appreciative that Suzuki is able to start discussions with Toyota to explore ideas on a partnership. We will proceed with discussions for the future of Suzuki.”

Toyota president Akio Toyoda said, “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. In addition to the R&D which each company is working on individually, it is very important now to have partners who share the same goal and passion.

“We would like to always keep our doors open for new partnership opportunities, which will contribute to the making of ever-better cars as well as to the development of the automotive industry.”

Such a partnership could affect our national carmakers Proton and Perodua. The former has an ongoing licensing agreement with Suzuki – which is also one of the candidates for a strategic foreign partner – while the latter produces cars based on Daihatsu platforms.

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