Toyota, Suzuki partnering in self-driving car technology

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s top automaker, Toyota, and smaller rival Suzuki are partnering in the development of self-driving car technology, as manufacturers around the world grapple with innovations in the industry.

Under the deal, announced yesterday, Toyota will take a 4.9 per cent stake in Suzuki Motor Corp valued at JPY96 billion (USD908 million), and Suzuki will make a JPY48 billion (USD454 million) investment in Toyota.

In 2017, Toyota Motor Corp and Suzuki agreed to work together in ecological and safety technology.

That deal did not include owning mutual stakes. Auto manufacturers are facing a costly shift toward the use of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet and other technologies.

Partnerships are one way to share the enormous costs.

Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda (L) with Suzuki Motor Corp Chairman Osamu Suzuki during a news conference in Tokyo on October 12, 2016. PHOTO: AP

Last month, Volkswagen AG (VW) of Germany said it is investing USD2.6 billion in a Pittsburgh autonomous vehicle company that’s mostly owned by Ford, Argo AI, with a plan to put autonomous vehicles on the roads in the United States (US) and Europe as early as 2021.

Under the deal, Ford will use VW’s electric vehicle platform to build zero-emissions cars for the European market starting in 2023.

In February, BMW and Daimler said they are working together on self-driving cars.

Under their earlier agreement signed in 2017, Toyota and Suzuki are also cooperating in the Indian market, where Suzuki remains a strong player.

They said they will continue to expand their collaboration.

“The automobile sector is currently experiencing a turning point unprecedented in both scope and scale,” Toyota and Suzuki said in a statement, referring to stronger environmental regulations as well as newcomers in the mobility business.

They said deepening their relationship will help both companies grow and meet challenges.