Toy­ota to share car costs

Toy­ota plans to counter the global fi­nan­cial squeeze, write PAUL GOVER and PETER LYON in Ja­pan

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

CRI­SIS meet­ings have been held in Tokyo as the world’s largest car­maker faces up to the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis and a huge show­room down­turn at home.

Toy­ota is look­ing for the best ways to re­cover from a back­ward slide in Ja­panese sales and pre­vent any ma­jor dam­age on the global scene, and is turn­ing to Subaru and Dai­hatsu for an­swers.

It has con­firmed a prod­uct shar­ing plan with Fuji Heavy In­dus­tries, which will spawn sports mod­els with Subaru tech­nol­ogy, and more small-car work with Dai­hatsu.

The new de­vel­op­ments, and par­tic­u­larly a promised Toy­ota sports car with Subaru all-wheel drive, has ob­vi­ous im­pli­ca­tions for Aus­tralia. And Toy­ota is also look­ing to sup­ply small cars that can be badged and sold in Subaru show­rooms.

‘‘If you look at it in the con­text of Toy­ota, it could be pretty ex­cit­ing stuff. But it’s too early to know just yet,’’ Toy­ota Aus­tralia sales and mar­ket­ing boss Dave But­tner says.

‘‘The ba­sic stance is that, while the com­pa­nies will be do­ing joint de­vel­op­ment, the prod­ucts will be mar­keted un­der their own brand names. It’s a very good af­fil­i­a­tion that will lead to some strong prod­ucts down the track.

‘‘To be de­vel­op­ing sports cars with a brand that is as­pi­ra­tional sounds pretty good. And the sports cars will have an eco fo­cus, which will be an ad­van­tage for Subaru and Fuji Heavy In­dus­tries,’’ But­tner says.

Toy­ota boss Kat­suaki Watan­abe con­vened the Tokyo sum­mit last week with the com­pany’s satel­lites heads — Ikuo Mori of Subaru and Teruyuki Mi­noura of Dai­hatsu — to find ways to cut costs and share de­vel­op­ment bud­gets.

Ja­pan’s ve­hi­cle mar­ket, the world’s third largest, fell to a 26-year low last fis­cal year be­cause of de­clin­ing wages and a shrink­ing pop­u­la­tion. Ris­ing prices for steel, alu­minium and rub­ber are also ap­ply­ing pres­sure.

Daiwa SB In­vest­ments spokesman Koichi Ogawa says: ‘‘Small cars will be­come more and more im­por­tant glob­ally as cus­tomers opt for fuel-ef­fi­cient mod­els.’’

So the out­come of the sum­mit is firm plans on sev­eral fronts.

Toy­ota plans to dou­ble its stake in Fuji Heavy to 17 per cent.

Toy­ota and Subaru will code­velop com­pact rear-wheel-drive sports cars based on the Im­preza’s boxer en­gine and me­chan­i­cal lay­out, with the two com­pa­nies sell­ing their own mod­els by 2011. Both cars will be built at Subaru’s fac­tory at Gunma, Ja­pan.

Toy­ota will also cre­ate its own all-wheel-drive sports car based on the cur­rent Im­preza.

In ad­di­tion, Toy­ota will sup­ply com­pact cars to Subaru, while Dai­hatsu sup­plies baby cars such as the Koo to Subaru.

The three com­pa­nies al­ready have close ties: Toy­ota builds its Camry sedan in Subaru’s US plant and Dai­hatsu sup­plies a small car to Subaru for sales in Europe.

Though the Ja­panese are pre­par­ing for tougher times, Toy­ota Aus­tralia is still wait­ing for the shake­out from the latest fi­nan­cial de­vel­op­ments at home.

‘‘I think it’s too early to call. We’re not pan­ick­ing yet. The mar­ket is still track­ing to­wards our fore­cast of 1,070,000 (sales),’’ But­tner says.

One for the money: to cut

costs and de­vel­op­ment bud­gets, Toy­ota (right) will

sup­ply com­pact cars to Subaru. Toy­ota al­ready builds its Camry sedan (be­low) in

Subaru’s US fac­tory.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.