New Delhi: Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday said it will start selling Suzuki Motor Corp.’s passenger vehicles in Kenya, expanding a tie-up the two Japanese companies made for the Indian market two years ago. A statement on Toyota Kenya’s website said it will retail five car models made by Suzuki through its dealerships in Kenya.

These are the small car Alto, hatchback Swift, mid-size sedan Ciaz, compact utility vehicle Vitara Brezza and a small sport utility vehicle Jimny.

The vehicles will retain the Suzuki badge.

The vehicles will be produced at Suzuki’s factories in India, Japan and Hungary.

“Toyota Kenya has announced a business partnership with Suzuki Motor Corp. and the partnership will see initial five Suzuki models being sold under the Suzuki brand by Kenya distributorship. Toyota has also entered into partnerships with leading banks to offer up to 90% financing with easy payment terms, pocket-friendly monthly instalments and a loan period up to five years," the statement said.

Last year, Toyota and Suzuki had announced both companies will jointly explore the African markets, and this business arrangement will be the first step in that direction.

At present, Toyota is the largest vehicle manufacturer in Africa, but it is known for its bigger utility vehicles. Selling Suzuki’s hatchbacks and sedans expands its portfolio, and the arrangement can be repeated in other African countries as well.

Toyota and Suzuki have joined hands to develop hybrid cars and small electric cars together for the Indian markets. They have also agreed to sell each other’s vehicles in India. As part of the process, Toyota will sell Suzuki’s Vitara Brezza and Baleno under its own badge, while Suzuki will sell the Corolla sedan.

Suzuki will start supplying the Baleno to Toyota from the next fiscal year.

Avik Chattopadhayay, founder of Expereal, a brand consultancy firm, said Suzuki has a weak position in markets like Africa but will help Toyota complete its product portfolio and will help it to compete with Chinese and other manufacturers in the lower price point segment.

“This is a win-win situation for both companies. Toyota’s presence is there at a higher price point and Suzuki will be the so-called fighter brand for Toyota in the continent. Toyota because of its portfolio and cost will not able to cater to customers at a price point where Suzuki can. Toyota can get a lot of customers into Suzuki and later upgrade them to Toyota," Chattopadhayay said.

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