Suzuki and Toyota have announced that they have agreed to start exploring a research and development partnership.

Suzuki said it is facing uncertainty about future R&D, while Toyota feels it is behind the curve in terms of establishing agreements with other companies.

According to the companies, a future partnership will enable the firms to meet their respective challenges, while the collaboration also aims to strengthen both firms’ environmental, safety and information technology. 

However, the partnership would be based on a prerequisite that the car companies will continue to compete with each other in the marketplace, despite possibly sharing equipment in the future.

The Japanese companies also said they would be open to other companies to join the collaboration and help create safety and technological standardisation within the industry.

Last year, Toyota was the 11th-ranked fleet manufacturer in terms of sales, with 44,369 registrations, a 5.3% increase on 2014’s figures, while Suzuki was ranked in 24th place with 8,083 models registered to fleet, a rise of 11.4% when compared with 2014’s total.

“Toyota is the industry-leading and the most reliable company actively working on various advanced and future technologies. I am appreciative that Suzuki is able to start discussions with Toyota to explore ideas on a partnership,” said Osamu Suzuki, chairman of Suzuki.

“As the environment which surrounds the automobile industry has been changing drastically, we need to have the ability to respond to changes in order to survive,” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota.

“In addition to the R&D which each company is working on individually, it is very important now to have partners who share the same goal and passion.

“We would like always to keep our doors open for new partnership opportunities, which will contribute to the making of ever-better cars, as well as to the development of the automotive industry.”