Suzuki Motor Corp. and Daihatsu Motor Co. are investing in a Toyota Motor Corp. entity to bring electrification and autonomous driving to commercial vehicles, deepening ties between the automakers.
They will join Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Hino Motors Ltd., Toyota’s truck and bus unit, which formed the venture earlier this year. Suzuki and Daihatsu will acquire a 10% stake in the partnership from Toyota, they said in a statement Wednesday, without disclosing the amount.
The world’s biggest automaker has been stitching together a web of alliances and shareholdings with smaller car-and-truck manufacturers to pool resources and take part in the shift away from gasoline engines and human drivers.
Volkswagen AG and other global automakers have also been forging partnerships as new technologies and business models disrupt the $2.23 trillion global auto industry.
Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies is the name of Toyota’s commercial-vehicle joint venture. Toyota and Suzuki took stakes in each other two years ago, and Daihatsu became a subsidiary of Toyota in 2016.
Suzuki and Daihatsu bring to the table deep experience in smaller automobiles used by consumers and businesses, which they said account for about 31 million of the 78 million vehicles owned in Japan and “serve as an essential lifeline in the daily lives of people, especially in rural areas.”
A key challenge of bringing electrification and autonomous technology to smaller cars is keeping costs under control so they remain affordable. That’s part of the mission of the Toyota-led partnership, which was forged in April.
“There are many issues that mini-vehicle manufacturers are unable to solve on their own,” Suzuki and Daihatsu said in the statement.