Bengaluru, India - The recently announced tie-up between Suzuki and Toyota in India is bearing its first fruits with news that the Baleno hatch will be rebadged as a Toyota for that market.
Although this has not been officially announced as yet, inside sources have told Live Mint that Suzuki will be supplying around 25 000 baleno hatchbacks a year to Toyota.
Apart from the obligatory badge and grille alterations, the Toyota version will reportedly receive slightly different headlights and taillights along with other mild styling alterations inside and out.
While it’s believed that this specific deal would be limited to the Indian market, there are implications that further down the line South Africa could get other Toyotas born from the partnership.
Two things stand out here. Firstly that Toyota’s Indian Division - which currently builds the SA-bound Etios - would produce vehicles developed by Suzuki, and given that Toyota has actually invested in building them in its factory, it’s likely that we’re talking about more than just 'badge engineering' here.
Secondly, it was also announced back in May that some of these cars would be exported to “Africa and other markets”.
We’re reading between the lines here, but an Etios replacement, quite possibly based on the Suzuki Swift, is starting to look plausible to us.
Yet before any of that happens, there are other badge engineering ventures in the pipeline, with Suzuki also set to supply Toyota with rebadged Vitara SUVs and Toyota, in turn, sending some of its Corolla sedans to Suzuki.