Will the next Toyota Etios be Suzuki based?
Bengaluru, India - Following last year’s memorandum of agreement to explore potential joint ventures, Toyota and Suzuki have now announced a range of joint projects and some of them might even have implications for the South African product mix.
Interestingly, the projects announced thus far revolve around the Indian market, and one of them will see Toyota’s Indian division - officially called Kirloskar Motors - produce vehicles developed by Suzuki, and to be sold under both the Toyota and Suzuki brand names.
What’s even more interesting, for us at least, is the announcement that some of these cars will be exported to Africa and other markets. At this stage there is no official word on what products will be exported, however, nor whether South Africa is included in the plan for that matter.
According to numerous reports, Toyota will produce versions of the Suzuki Baleno and Vitara at its Indian plant.
But it’s also not too much of a stretch to speculate that somewhere down the line Toyota might turn to Suzuki for help replacing its aging Etios - which Toyota Kirloskar currently exports to South Africa.
Were that to happen, wouldn't Suzuki’s latest Swift be the ideal donor car? Once again, it’s pure speculation at this point, but we can think of far worse ideas.
It also remains to be seen how far Toyota will go to differentiate the styling of its Suzuki-based products, although we’d certainly like to assume that both companies know better than to badge-engineer the old fashioned way.
But the move certainly makes sense in the context of the Indian car market as not only will it help to solve production capacity problems (Maruti Suzuki has too little and Toyota too much) but it will also give Toyota a more competitive product mix in the all-important Indian compact car market.
The partnership will also see Toyota and The Denso Corporation providing Suzuki with technological support for the development of an “ultra-high efficiency” engine, which is said to be “vital” for Suzuki.