Toyota remains committed to minicar alliance with PSA

Article by Anita Panait, on March 14, 2014

Toyota reiterated its commitment to its minicar partnership with PSA/Peugeot-Citroen although the French carmaker has already inked a capital tie-up deal with Dongfeng Motor Corp. “Partnering with PSA allows Toyota to be profitable in the A-segment and this is the reason we extended this partnership,” Toyota Europe chief executive Didier Leroy said at the Geneva Motor Show.

At the event, Toyota unveiled its second-generation Aygo minicar, which is built in a PSA-Toyota joint venture site in Kolin, Czech Republic alongside sister models Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1. In February, PSA disclosed a EUR3 billion capital increase wherein Dongfeng and the French government will each invest EUR800 million for 14 percent of the carmaker.

According to Leroy, PSA's tie-up with Dongfeng has not affected Toyota’s relationship with the French carmaker. “So far, so good,” he said. The Toyota-PSA minicar alliance has been existing for 10 year, with the Kolin site having an annual capacity of 300,000 units.

The Aygo, which is only sold in Europe, is one of the boosters of Toyota's profitability in the region. The first-generation Aygo, C1 and Peugeot 107 seemed like identical twins more than sister models, with their differences coming through headlamp and bumper shapes. The newly unveiled new-generation models, however, boast of greater differentiation.

“We obviously share the platform and the entire powertrain, the windshield and the doors but the rest of the body is specific for each brand,” remarked Karl Schlicht, Toyota Europe executive vice president in charge of sales, marketing and product. In 2013, Toyota sold 65,000 Aygos.

The carmaker will start selling the new Aygo in June, with Schlicht expecting sales to reach 80,000 units in 2015, which marks the first full year of production. The new Aygo will only be powered by gasoline engines as Toyota discontinued a diesel version three years ago due to weak demand. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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