Toyota Expands Reach Into Japanese Automobile Markets By Increasing Stake In Subaru To 20%

Automobile players across the globe are finding newer avenues to slash development costs and fight the heavy manufacturing costs of newer technologies. Earlier in the year, Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen jointly spent millions on developing electric and self-driving cars. And in following close suit, Japanese car manufacturer – Toyota Motor Corp has now announced plans to increase its stake in Subaru Corp to 20% from a pre-existing 17%. The move comes only a month after the Japanese marquee and Suzuki Motor Corp announced plans to purchase small equity stakes in a similar reciprocal deal.

The tie-up between Toyota Motor Corp and Subaru Corp will aim at helping the brands leverage their individual market strengths to better compete in developing new vehicle technologies. Subaru, which is known for its horizontally placed boxer engines and EyeSight autonomous driver assist and all-wheel-drive technologies can greatly benefit Toyota with its technological positioning. Similarly, the deal can mean direct exposure for the former in terms of securing a place in Toyota’s expanding group of Japanese partners, alongside include Mazda Motor Corp and Yamaha Motor Co. While the collaboration is designed to help Subaru gain better market pull from Toyota’s closely-knit network of suppliers, vendors, and commercial vehicle makers, industry sources claim that the rise in stake indicates its possible acquisition into the Toyota cluster in the near future.

Commenting on the likelihood, Takeshi Miyao, managing director of consultancy Carnorama in a statement said, “The plan appears to be to ultimately make Subaru a fully owned subsidiary, to help create a ‘mega Toyota’. This is the first step toward that,” He further added, “It’s all about building scale.” However, in dismissing such reports, Subaru President Tomomi Nakamura clarified, “I can assure you that there was absolutely no talk of Subaru becoming a Toyota subsidiary … either from our side or theirs.” Toyota also adopted a similar stance in its statement while further throwing light on its vision by stating, “In this once-in-a-century period of profound transformation, by strengthening their bonds and aligning their capabilities, Toyota and Subaru aim … to make ever-better cars.”

As opposed to forming cross-border tie-ups in line with its counterparts, Toyota can be seen forging relationships with smaller and domestic automakers and especially so in the Japanese automobile market.  In addition to its interest in Subaru, the marquee owns a 4.94 % stake in Suzuki and a 5% stake in Mazda Motor Corp as of today. After Friday’s announcement, its investment in Subaru would step up to 80 billion yen ($742 million) based on the smaller automaker’s current stock market value. As decided, Subaru will also buy a matching stake in Toyota to seal the deal. However, whether or not the move will help the brands successfully combat the fast pace of change in the auto industry is only for time to tell.

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