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Toyota and Suzuki are working on possible partnership

Toyota and Suzuki are working on possible partnershipToyota Motor Corp. is holding talks with Suzuki Motor Corp. on a business partnership, a sign that Suzuki could be heading into the orbit of Japan’s top auto maker after breaking up with Volkswagen AG, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The two companies said in a statement that they would explore cooperation in areas including safety and information technology. They said conditions in the auto industry were changing “drastically and rapidly in an unprecedented fashion.”

The announcement comes as Japanese auto makers are struggling with the impact of a higher yen—which threatens their profits by making the vehicles they export from Japan more expensive and reducing the value of overseas profit when converted back into the domestic currency. Auto makers globally are also grappling with the need for large investments in new technologies, such as those involved in autonomous driving.

In 2009, Suzuki struck a partnership with Volkswagen under which the German car maker purchased a 19.9% stake in Suzuki. They planned to work together on the development of fuel-efficient small cars, a specialty of Suzuki. However, the two companies quickly clashed, and after a long arbitration process Volkswagen and Suzuki dissolved their shareholdings in each other last year.

That led to speculation about a possible tie-up between Suzuki and another large car maker. The statement by Toyota and Suzuki didn’t mention any possible investment by Toyota in Suzuki.

Suzuki’s chairman, Osamu Suzuki, praised Toyota in a prepared statement as the industry-leading car maker and “the most reliable company.” He added, “We will proceed with discussions for the future of Suzuki.”

“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,” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota.

“We would like to always keep 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,” Mr. Toyoda added. The two companies said they would be open to other companies participating in their collaboration ideas.
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