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Toyota, Suzuki announce far-reaching partnership

Suzuki will sell its own version of the RAV4 and the Corolla.

Toyota and Suzuki announced a far-reaching partnership that will help both brands sell more cars in key regions while saving money by leveraging the benefits of economies of scale. The tie-up mainly focuses on Europe, India, and Africa.

In Europe, Suzuki is weak and Toyota is largely overshadowed by European rivals like Renault, Volkswagen, and Peugeot. Toyota will let Suzuki use its hybrid system, much like it gave Subaru access to the components, and it will allow its smaller partner to re-badge two of its best-selling cars. The RAV4 (pictured) and the Corolla wagon will join the Suzuki line-up. They will be new additions to the portfolio, not replacements, and both will come with a hybrid powertrain.

There is no word yet on whether the Suzuki-badged Toyota models will simply wear different emblems on both ends, or if stylists will at least try to differentiate the two models with brand-specific sheet metal. We know that Toyota will build Suzuki's Corolla in the United Kingdom using hybrid parts also made locally. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2020.

As a trade-off, Suzuki will help Toyota in India, a market it has dominated for decades. Its Ciaz sedan and Ertiga people-mover will join Toyota's Indian line-up. Four additional made-in-India models (the Baleno, the Vitara Brezza, the Ciaz, and the Ertiga) will receive a Toyota emblem to help the Japanese firm expand its presence in the increasingly lucrative African market.

Back in Europe, Suzuki will allow Toyota to build its engines in Poland, and install them in its own compact cars. Neither party has identified the engines they'll share.

Finally, Toyota and Suzuki will jointly develop a people-mover for the Indian market. Details about that model remain few and far between. Toyota will build both versions of the model. It will also help Suzuki meet demand for the Vitara by building the model in the Kirloskar factory it operates in India starting in 2022.

The two Japanese firms are open to other areas of collaboration (how about a mini Land Cruiser based on the Jimny?), but they stressed that they remain rivals and will continue to fairly and freely compete against each other at home and abroad.

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