In a move that could help it lower development costs and open up distribution networks in developing markets, Toyota has confirmed that it is considering buying the remaining stake of Daihatsu and making it a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Already Toyota holds a 51.2 percent share of Daihatsu, and uses the company’s expertise in kei cars (Japan’s unique 600cc city car class) to develop its own kei competitors.
At the same time, reports have linked Suzuki with Toyota. Like Daihatsu, Suzuki’s expertise extends to micro cars, and thanks to India’s Maruti Suzuki division, unlocks the potential to access India’s growing new car market.
The Japanese company has remained since independent, and Toyota has poured water on reports of an alliance with Suzuki.
Industry analysts have suggested that Daihatsu could be grown into a wider low-cost brand for Toyota, similar to Dacia or Skoda. If the Suzuki alliance were to come to fruition it would give the smaller automaker access to Toyota’s hybrid and fuel cell technologies.
"We are constantly considering a number of possibilities relating to Daihatsu, such as partnerships or business restructuring, including making the company a fully owned subsidiary," Toyota said in a statement.
While no confirmation has been given on the Toyota takeover of Daihatsu, it seems the world’s largest automaker is keen to make a move on the microcar specialist.
Would that spell a return of the Daihatsu brand in Australia, last sold here in 2006? In the immediate future it seems unlikely given the current downturn in microcar sales, but it's an area Toyota is sure to be closely monitoring.