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Toyota tech to power Suzuki hybrids worldwide

Automakers team up on eco-cars and compacts with eye on India

Toyota seeks to spruce up its compact line with assistance from Suzuki.   © Reuters

NAGOYA -- Toyota Motor will supply its hybrid technology to Suzuki Motor for use in markets across the world, part of an expanded collaboration aimed at bolstering their respective strengths in markets like China and India.

"The biggest benefit is that we can broaden the lineup of electrified vehicles in India," a Suzuki official said. As India moves to electrify its automobile fleet to fight pollution, Suzuki aims to jazz up its hybrid offerings with Toyota's fuel-efficient system.

Suzuki in 2014 rolled out its own simplified hybrid system in Japan and introduced it to India in September 2015. The automaker now offers four hybrid models in India, which accounted for 110,000, or about 6%, of unit sales in the country last year. The figure is growing each year, Suzuki says.

The collaboration marks the latest step in a partnership the Japanese carmakers formed in 2017.

They will also beef up an original equipment manufacturing arrangement dating back to March last year. From the second half of 2020, Toyota will supply Suzuki with two electrified vehicles built on its RAV4 sport utility vehicle and Corolla Wagon platforms in Europe. Meanwhile, Suzuki will supply Toyota with two compacts built on Suzuki's Ciaz and Ertiga platforms in India.

Toyota will build Suzuki-developed engines in Poland and install them in its compact models. Suzuki will supply its India-built compacts to Toyota for sale in Africa, starting at the end of 2020.

The companies had agreed last May to collaborate on engine development, Toyota's production of Suzuki-designed vehicles in India, and on cultivating the African market.

Though Suzuki commands over half the Indian auto market, Toyota's presence in China and India is relatively weak due in part to a lackluster lineup of compacts. But in hybrids, Toyota's global sales rose 7.7% in 2018 to 1.63 million units as countries tightened emissions regulations. The carmaker is considering supplying its hybrid system to China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group as well, in line with efforts to further popularize its technology.

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