Japanese automakers Suzuki and Daihatsu are joining a partnership started by Toyota and Isuzu to develop autonomous, electric, connected and shared vehicle technology, the companies announced July 21.
In April, Toyota, Isuzu and Toyota’s truck division, Hino Motors, established the Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corporation. This joint venture is aimed to design CASE (connected, autonomous, shared and electric) vehicle technologies and services for commercial vehicles — that is, machines used for carrying goods or fare-paying passengers.
Suzuki and Daihatsu have now joined the Commercial Japan Partnership to advance CASE technologies in mini-commercial vehicles. Toyota now owns 60 percent of Commercial Japan Partnership’s shares, while Isuzu, Hino, Suzuki and Daihatsu now each own 10 percent.
“With Suzuki and Daihatsu now joining us in this project, we will take on the challenge of improving the lives of people supported by minivehicles,” Toyota president Akio Toyoda said at a press conference.
Minivehicles, in which Suzuki and Daihatsu excel, account for about 31 million of the approximately 78 million vehicles owned in Japan.
“Since minivehicle standards were established in 1949, minivehicles have been used for a variety of purposes, such as in local transportation, in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as in construction, retail, and logistics, to enrich people’s lives by being close to them, including in their work,” Suzuki president Toshihiro Suzuki said at the press conference.
The companies noted minivehicles serve as an essential lifeline in the daily lives of many in Japan, especially in rural areas.
“In Japan, 85 percent of roads are so narrow that they can only be used smoothly by minivehicles,” Toyoda said at the press conference. “In many rural areas, minivehicles account for more than 50 percent of owned vehicles.”
Expanding the Commercial Japan Partnership to include minivehicles will help spread electrification and advanced safety technologies such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) for minivehicles, the companies noted.
“We will bring together the technologies and know-how of each company and study the development of advanced safety technologies that are more affordable with a view toward future development,” Daihatsu president Soichiro Okudaira said at the press conference.