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Toyota buys Daihatsu, takes aim at global small car market

THE world’s reigning top car maker, Toyota, will sharpen its aim at the expanding global small car market by spending about US$3 billion (RM12.51 billion) to take full control of Daihatsu, which is already a Toyota subsidiary.

Toyota said it would swap shares for the 48.8 percent of Daihatsu it doesn’t already own and delist that company’s shares on July 27.

In a statement, Toyota President Akio Toyoda described the deal as “an opportunity for us both to stop feeling that we need to go it alone,” though Toyota said it would maintain the Daihatsu brand.

The move will help Toyota beef up its small-car business by allowing it to work more closely with engineers of Daihatsu, which makes minicars with 660cc engines in Japan and compact cars in Southeast Asia.

Under the new strategy, Toyota and Daihatsu intend to combine their bases of operations in addition to sharing their respective areas of proficiency and technical expertise.

This, the two companies said, will leverage the advantages of both brands, allowing the development of attractive products that are competitive on a global basis thanks to shared research and development.

The Daihatsu brand, said Toyoda (below), will have a position equal to that of Toyota and Lexus.

akio

“Although Toyota and Daihatsu will compete and maintain separate management styles that capitalize on their respective capabilities, bringing the two together under a shared strategy will enable them together to overcome otherwise prohibitive obstacles in the future.

“Implementing the Toyota New Global Architecture has once again made us aware of the difficulties involved in manufacturing small cars. At the same time, the importance of small cars is increasing as we face ever-greater environmental issues the world over, and as emerging markets continue their inevitable growth.

“… we have a good track record in our development of technologies―particularly environmental technologies. However, I have frequently worried that we haven’t managed to make our presence felt in the small car segment.

“Unless we gain the know-how necessary to better develop small cars, we may deprive ourselves of the chance to make crucial breakthroughs.”

Daihatsu is a stakeholder in Perodua which is the top car seller in Malaysia — but no official word yet on how the takeover will affect the Malaysian scene.

Areas of strategic collaboration will include:

Small cars. The differentiation between Toyota’s and Daihatsu’s brands will continue, and the product lineups of both will be optimised in accordance with customer preferences, with Daihatsu taking the lead in developing products offered within the small car lineups of both brands.

At the same time, Daihatsu will continue to focus on developing vehicles aimed specifically at customers in the areas in which the brand already has a strong presence, while also honing its expertise and processes related to product planning and technological development for minivehicles.

Technology. Both companies will share development and deployment strategies for new technologies from the initial conceptual stages. Toyota’s focus will remain on technologies related to the environment, safety, user experience, and comfort, while Daihatsu will continue to leverage its aptitude for turning technologies into packages for vehicles, as well as developing cost- and fuel-efficient technologies. Daihatsu will also contribute to the development of next-generation technologies from the perspective of cost-efficiency and miniaturization. The company’s specialised car manufacturing expertise will be shared within the Toyota Group, which will contribute to further enhancing the cost competitiveness of larger vehicles.

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