Japan’s Toyota adds ‘kei’ makers to technology partnership

This August 15, 2019 file photo shows the Toyota logo on a car dealership in Manchester, NH. In a deal announced on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, Japan’s leading automaker Toyota adds manufacturers specializing in tiny “kei” cars, Daihatsu and Suzuki. to a commercial vehicle partnership established earlier this year with Hino and Isuzu. (AP Photo / Charles Krupa, File)

TOKYO (AP) – Japan’s leading automaker Toyota is adding two tiny “kei” car companies, Daihatsu and Suzuki, to its partnership with Hino and Isuzu that it entered into earlier this year with Hino and Isuzu.

Announcing the deal on Wednesday, Akio Toyoda, chief executive of Toyota Motor Corp., said it would accelerate efforts to become greener and more sustainable, as kei cars make up about 40% of the Japanese auto market.

Fuel efficient kei cars, which are small in size and with a maximum displacement of 0.66 liters, are popular with farmers, delivery companies, and retailers. Their tiny size is a plus for maneuvering Japan’s tiny streets and fitting into small parking spaces.

“We want to give people a better life,” Toyoda said in an online press conference. “Kei cars are a practical and sustainable lifeline for Japan.”

As part of the Commercial Japan Partnership announced in March, Toyota, Isuzu Motors and Hino Motors are working together in the fields of electric, hydrogen, connected and autonomous technologies.

These three automakers together control 80% of the Japanese truck market.

The addition of Daihatsu and Suzuki strengthens the partnership, and manufacturers could work together to develop common electric models, the companies said.

Under the latest agreement, Suzuki and Daihatsu will each acquire a 10% stake in the Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corp. joint venture. acquire.

With a capital of 10 million yen ($ 91,000), it will be 60% owned by Toyota and 10% each by Isuzu, Hino, Suzuki and Daihatsu by the end of July.

Toyoda acknowledged that the companies are competitors but must work together for the benefit of customers.

Working together can help automakers cut costs and increase efficiency. Kei models also have potential for other parts of Asia, such as India, where Suzuki is a major player.

Toyota and Suzuki have had a small car partnership since 2016 and tied up capital in 2019.

Suzuki President Toshihiro Suzuki said he saw kei as a “work of art” that was vital to Japanese society.

“I was so happy to learn that President Toyoda had the same vision as me,” said Suzuki.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter