The Toyota Suzuki alliance, announced last year in March, will see the two Japanese automakers sell some of each other’s vehicles in India. Suzuki will gain access to Toyota’s hybrid technology along with the Corolla sedan, while Toyota will be selling a rebadged Baleno and Vitara Brezza as a Toyota model.
As a part of this agreement, Suzuki will be supplying 20,000-25,000 Baleno cars each year to Toyota with sales set to commence from later this year. Toyota will be directly dealing with Suzuki Motor India, and not with Maruti Suzuki India.
This alliance is not restricted exclusively to model sharing by the Japanese automakers, but will be extended further. Suzuki will receive Toyota’s hybrid technology while Toyota will gain access to mass market cars in its Indian lineup. The collaboration will also help both companies to bring in more products into the market, and that too at aggressive pricing.
Baleno hatchback, with the Toyota branding, will be produced at the Suzuki plant in Gujarat. Apart from a new name, it will also get minor changes in the front and rear. But engine, transmission, features, etc will remain same, as on offer with the Maruti Baleno.
The changes on the Toyota badged Baleno could include new grille, bumpers and lights along with some interior updates, but will see no other major changes as these would involve added investment which would escalate costs. This is something Toyota wants to avoid at this stage and instead concentrate on creating a new buying experience for the customer. At a later stage, a hybrid variant of the Toyota Baleno could also be introduced.
Toyota Baleno will start arriving at dealerships across India later this year. It will be more expensive than Maruti Baleno, which is priced at Rs 5.45 lakhs. It is powered by a 1.2 liter petrol engine or 1.3 liter diesel engine, both of which get mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox. Baleno sold by Toyota, will be sold and serviced at Toyota dealerships. Even the spares and parts will be sold via Toyota. After this, Toyota will launch rebadged Brezza, while Maruti Nexa will launch Corolla. Maruti Corolla could get 1.5 liter petrol engine, to keep costs lower.