Japan Toyota
Photo: AP file
business

Toyota adds 'kei' makers to technology partnership

11 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

Japan’s top automaker Toyota is adding two companies specializing in tiny “kei” cars, Daihatsu and Suzuki, to a partnership in commercial vehicles it set up with Hino and Isuzu earlier this year.

In announcing the deal Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corp. Chief Executive Akio Toyoda said it will speed up efforts to become more ecological and sustainable because kei cars make up about 40% of the Japanese auto market.

Fuel-efficient kei cars, defined by their small size and maximum 0.66 liter engine size, are popular with farmers, deliveries and retailers. Their tiny size is a plus for maneuvering through Japan’s tiny roads and fitting into small parking spaces.

“We want to deliver better lives for people,” Toyoda said in an online news conference. “Kei cars make for a practical and sustainable lifeline for Japan.”

Under the tie-up, Commercial Japan Partnership, that was announced in March, Toyota, Isuzu Motors and Hino Motors are working together in electric, hydrogen, connected and autonomous technologies.

Those three automakers combined control 80% of Japan’s truck market.

The addition of Daihatsu and Suzuki strengthens the partnership, and the manufacturers may work together in developing electric models together, the companies said.

Under the latest deal, Suzuki and Daihatsu will each acquire a 10% stake in the Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corp. joint venture.

Capitalized at 10 million yen ($91,000), it will be 60% owned by Toyota, and 10% each by Isuzu, Hino, Suzuki and Daihatsu, by the end of July.

Toyoda acknowledged that the companies are rivals, but need to collaborate to benefit customers.

Working together can help automakers cut costs and boost efficiency. Kei models also hold potential for other parts of Asia, such as India, where Suzuki is a major player.

Toyota and Suzuki have had a partnership in small cars since 2016, and they entered a capital tie-up in 2019.

Suzuki President Toshihiro Suzuki said he saw kei as “works of art” crucial to Japanese society.

“I was so happy to learn President Toyoda had the same vision as me,” Suzuki said.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

11 Comments
Login to comment

30+ years late but it’s exciting that Yoshiki will be bringing much needed innovation to Toyota.

“Toyota adds 'kei' makers to technology partnership” -

0 ( +1 / -1 )

are popular with farmers

They aren't "popular" with anyone. People buy them because they're cheap, thanks to discriminatory govt regulation. Remove that regulation, and they would quickly disappear.

Kei models also hold potential for other parts of Asia,

Yeah, right. They aren't exported because hardly anyone outside of Japan - with its unfair regulations - wants or needs a four-wheel, four-seat vehicle with a 660cc engine.

Let's not even get into the safety issues with those tin boxes.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Yeah, right. They aren't exported because hardly anyone outside of Japan - with its unfair regulations - wants or needs a four-wheel, four-seat vehicle with a 660cc engine.

Eh, not so fast. They have a following in the US. I have been giving serious consideration to a Honda Acty van. Nissan Pao's and Figaro's are popular too. They are street legal in many states though in some you have to stay off freeways. For me it would be perfect for going to work and knocking around town. Lots of room for the doggies.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The shape of things to come. There are many resident engineers from Suzuki and Daihatsu in TMC. Basically they go there to learn the specifications and take it back with them to their company to implement in their vehicles after their 2-3 year assignment is over. That’s how the collaboration works. TMC gains leverage.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They have a following in the US.

The East German Trabant has a "following" in Germany. Bad cars attain cult status, which doesnt make them good cars.

Nissan Pao's and Figaro's are popular too. 

Those have 1 liter engines, not 660cc. The 660cc size limit was devised by postwar bureaucrats, not engineers. Only a seriously insane engineer would opt for that kind of engine displacement for van or passenger car.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Isn't Daihatsu already part of Toyota?

Regarding the "sell in Asia" idea, Suzuki already sell the Wagon R, one of the most popular kei cars, in India, but with a 1000cc engine. Its because 660cc only makes sense when the government is giving you a big tax break and other perks for it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Capitalized at 10 million yen ($91,000)..."

That is a very small figure considering the high-profile companies involved, and must be a typographical error. 'Billion' or 'trillion' instead of 'million'?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Only a seriously insane engineer would opt for that kind of engine displacement for van or passenger car.

I guess the engineers at Citroen were insane. The 2CV had a 375 cc two cylinder engine originally (1948). The largest engine to grace a 2CV was 602 cc. Both were liquid cooled. The Steyr Haflinger off road truck used an air cooled 600 cc flat twin engine.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The 2CV had a 375 cc two cylinder engine originally (1948). 

Interesting. Until 1976 in Japan, kei cars had limit of 360cc. So somewhat similar. From 1976 to 1990, the limit was 550cc. (I had one of those - a Daihatsu. I drove it for about six years.) In 1990, it moved to 660cc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I bought my Daihatsu Move ten years ago. It's done 190,000 km and it's still going strong. Plenty of room inside, good acceleration, good road holding and doesn't use a lot of petrol.

These are great cars and destined to get even better with Toyota's tech behind them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I see the little Daihatsu and Isuzu Kei trucklets with their fold down sides in the US. I remember when I was active duty they were popular for knocking around naval bases and air stations with various cargos.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites