Toyota is to build a new hybrid electric vehicle in the UK for Suzuki, which is good news for an industry weighed down by Brexit fears.
The new hybrid will be based on the Corolla model and made at Toyota’s Burnaston plant in Derbyshire, with engines supplied by the company’s Deeside factory in north Wales.
It is not thought this development will lead to the creation of new jobs but it will help secure the future of Toyota’s existing UK workforce of more than 3,000.
The new model forms part of a global partnership between the two Japanese car makers to produce hybrid and electric vehicles.
Toyota will produce hybrids in Europe, based on its Corolla and RAV4 SUV crossover for Suzuki, while Suzuki will supply Toyota with petrol engines for compact vehicle models sold in the region.
The agreement follows an initial R&D tie-up announced by Japan’s No1 and No 4 automakers in 2017, and will see more Toyota vehicles produced by Suzuki.
Though Suzuki is far smaller, it is a dominant force in the fast-growing Indian market.
The two automakers have been pooling their strengths. Toyota is a leader in hybrid technology and is investing heavily in automated driving, while Suzuki specialises in affordable compact cars. Many automakers have struggled to keep pace with ballooning investment in electric vehicles and self-driving cars.
Under the latest agreement, Suzuki will source hybrid systems for cars it sells worldwide from Toyota, which pioneered hybrid vehicles with the Prius more than 20 years ago, the companies said in a joint statement.
In return, Suzuki will produce two compact models for Toyota in India based on its Ciaz and Ertiga models.
Further cooperation with Suzuki will help Toyota expand its presence in India, the world’s fifth-largest passenger car market, where it has struggled to grow sales due to lean demand for its lower-cost models.
The deepening partnership between the two automakers will enable Suzuki to tap into Toyota’s R&D firepower to develop lower-emission vehicles and self-driving cars.
“We believe that the expansion of our business partnership with Suzuki will help give us the competitive edge we will need to survive this once-in-a-century period of profound transformation,” the Toyota president, Akio Toyoda said in a statement.
The two automakers will deepen their cooperation in India, where Suzuki’s hybrid vehicles will be made using engines and batteries locally produced by Toyota.
Suzuki will also produce its Baleno, Vitara Brezza, Ciaz, and Ertiga models for Toyota which will be rebranded and renamed as Toyota models for the African market.