Toyota Motor Corp.'s affiliate has begun manufacturing hybrid RAV4 sport-utility vehicles for Suzuki Motor Corp. for the first time, with a plan to sell them under the smaller automaker brand in the European market, sources close to the matter said Thursday.
Toyota Industries Corp., which currently assembles the RAV4 model, started production for Suzuki at its plant in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, earlier this month, the sources said.
The minivehicle manufacturer plans to start selling RAV4s carrying the Suzuki badge in the second half of this year after unveiling the plan in March last year.
Suzuki hopes to boost its sales in Europe, where restrictions on emissions are getting stricter, with Toyota's more eco-friendly hybrid vehicles. It also plans to sell Toyota's hybrid Corolla Wagon cars under the Suzuki brand in the European market, the sources said.
Toyota and Suzuki have recently been beefing up their close relationship. The two automakers announced last August that they had agreed on a capital tie-up in which Toyota would hold a 4.94 percent stake in Suzuki for about 96 billion yen ($897 million) and Suzuki would have a Toyota stake worth about 48 billion yen.
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