Toyota is to take full control of Daihatsu in a move that’s aimed at enhancing the small car expertise of both companies. Under the deal, Toyota boss Akio Toyoda has said the Daihatsu brand will be given an “equal position with the Toyota and Lexus brands”.
Daihatsu, Japan’s longest-surviving car maker, has been a subsidiary of Toyota since 1998 and the pair have worked together since the late 1960s. Now the world’s largest car company has agreed to buy the remainder of Daihatsu shares in a deal said to be worth about $3 billion (about £2bn). Toyota then plans to delist Daihatsu from the stock exchange on 27 July.
In a statement, Toyota said the purpose of the agreement is “to develop ever-better cars by adopting a unified strategy for the small car segment, under which both companies will be free to focus on their core competencies”.
“We at Toyota are fixated on our need to cover our own bases,” said Toyoda. “I have frequently worried that we haven’t been able to make our presence felt in the small car market.
“Toyota and Daihatsu first collaborated in 1967 and that relationship is why we are able to entrust this part of our car business to Daihatsu.
“Daihatsu has a spontaneous, down-to-earth nature and I think we have a lot to learn from them.
“Small cars will continue to be the focus of Daihatsu’s efforts. The company excels in the kind of engineering needed to make affordable and high-quality products."
The two companies will share bases of operations and co-operate on the development of new technology for small cars. Daihatsu will be able to tap into Toyota’s expertise at electric powertrains, autonomous driving technology and global might.
The differentiation between Toyota's and Daihatsu's brands will continue, and the product line-ups of both will be optimised in accordance with customer preferences, with Daihatsu taking the lead in developing products offered within the small car line-ups of both brands.
At the same time, Daihatsu will continue to focus on developing vehicles aimed specifically at customers in the areas in which the brand already has a strong presence.
While Daihatsu’s management will retain a degree of autonomy – Toyota describes the situation as “friendly competition” – the takeover will “bring the two together under a shared strategy that will enable them to jointly overcome otherwise prohibitive obstacles in the future”.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda said: "This is an opportunity for us both to stop feeling that we need to go it alone, and trust each other to take full advantage of our respective strengths. In other words, we can now focus on our core competencies. That, I believe, is the key to achieving and sustaining global competitiveness."
Although the deal focuses primarily on small cars, Toyota is keen to tap into Daihatsu’s expertise in the areas of packaging, efficiency and miniaturisation. Toyota hopes this can be used to enhance the cost competitiveness of larger cars.
Daihatsu stopped selling cars in the UK in 2011.