Currently owned by Toyota, Daihatsu, another Japanese small car specialist was studying the Indian small car market with wonderful interest and was looking at methods to carry on Japanese rival Suzuki in what is one of the biggest little car markets in the world. Nevertheless, the current Toyota-Suzuki alliance appears to have put an end to these programs.
So today, Daihatsu, at least in the not too distant future, is more likely to center on the Indonesian and Malaysian markets where it has a great presence. This will also enable Daihatsu to continue producing cars at present quality levels; their cars are efficient and execute well according to insiders, but they lack the quality levels required in our marketplace. And then there is also the not so little matter of these meeting India’s Europe-based emissions criteria as well as also the impending crash test standards.
Consequently, it now seems that Toyota will delve into the small car market themselves with the support of both Suzuki and Maruti. “Suzuki will be the masters of little cars in the Indian marketplace,” according to Hiroyuki Fukui, Chairman of Toyota-Kirloskar Motor, “and we the students have a great deal to learn from these.” Thoughplans have not been finalised yet, it looks like the Japanese companies will discuss a lot when it comes to platforms, engines and, most importantly, suppliers; the latter the secret to successful localisation of quality little cars. And it is here that Toyota will find the maximum aid. So while we still might have programs and components out of Daihatsu in India, they will, for the time being, fall beneath the Toyota umbrella.
Exactly what the two companies share will not be visible or clear, and they could even avoid going head to head like Skoda and VW do.
Toyota will also set up a dedicated R&D facility in India that, right from the beginning, will concentrate on little cars. Its design studio, which took care of this Etios facelift, will likely be updated to handle bigger projects and Toyota will consider expanding its network too.
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One thing’s for certain. Exactly how far Suzuki and Maruti aid Toyota, however, remains to be seen.