Some industry news out of Japan tells us that Toyota and Suzuki have made their courtship official in the way that multinational corporations do: by taking a stock stake in each other. The two companies announced a technology sharing partnership back in 2016, but it was made formal this week when Toyota paid ¥96 billion ($908 million USD) for a 4.94 percent share in Suzuki.
In return, Suzuki would buy ¥48 billion ($455 million USD) worth of Toyota stock, which ends up being just 0.2 percent of the automaking juggernaut. Ostensibly, the deal will allow the two to collaborate on technology in a rapidly changing automotive landscape. The convergence of electrification, autonomous driving, and ride sharing have created what Toyota President Akio Toyoda has called a “once-in-a-century” transformation of the industry.
For those keeping track, Toyota has been on something of a buying spree, having taken a 16.5 percent stake in Subaru, a 5 percent share of Mazda, 5.9 percent of Isuzu, a controlling stake in Hino, and full ownership of Daihatsu.
It makes sense for Toyota if it doesn’t want to get left behind. The rest of the industry has forming alliances that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago — Ford and VW partnering on electric vehicles, BMW and Mercedes-Benz on autonomous cars.
When Toyota announced its partnership with Suzuki in 2016 we entertained the idea that it could lead to a Japanese Big Three, with Toyota-Daihatsu-Hino-Subaru-Isuzu-Mazda-Suzuki one one side, Nissan-Mitsubishi on the other, and Honda as a David facing down two Goliaths. Now that seems one step closer to reality, and it should prove interesting for Japan’s auto industry in the coming years.