Toyota president Akio Toyoda, left, and Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki at a news conference in Tokyo. Picture: Shigeyuki Inakuma / Kyodo News via AP

Tokyo, Japan - Toyota and Suzuki, which began discussing a partnership in October, have announced they have signed a memorandum of agreement to work together on ecological and safety technology - a rapidly growing area in the industry - following approval by the company boards.

Another area for possible collaboration is information technology as well as supplying each other with products and components. The next step would be to come up with specific cooperation projects, they said.

Suzuki does not have a hybrid, electric or fuel-cell vehicle in its lineup. Self-driving cars are also a growing focus in the industry.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda praised Suzuki's pioneer spirit.

"I am truly thankful for having been given this opportunity to work together with a company such as Suzuki, which overflows with the spirit of challenge," he said. "Toyota looks forward to learning much."

Reducing costs

Developing futuristic technology is costly, and the companies can hope to reduce costs by working together. Toyota and Suzuki have encouraged others to join the partnership.

Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki said: "We now stand at the starting point for building a concrete cooperative relationship. I want to give this effort our fullest and to aim at producing results that will lead Toyota to conclude that it was the right thing for Toyota to have decided to work together with Suzuki."

Suzuki said the company had courted Toyota on such a partnership for years.

Toyota leads the world in selling petrol-electric hybrids, headed by the Prius, and it is also working on fuel cells and electric vehicles. Emissions regulations are tightening around the world, amid growing concerns about the environment and global warming.

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