TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp. and minivehicle unit Daihatsu Motor Co. unveiled on Monday their first car jointly developed for Japan, and said they would also aim to cooperate in India and other emerging markets.
The world's second-biggest automaker and Japan's second-biggest minivehicle maker began selling their first jointly developed car this year in Indonesia, but this would be their first in the competitive domestic market.
The one-liter compact car, called Passo under the Toyota badge and Boon under Daihatsu's, was aimed at expanding sales in the segment where minivehicles and compact cars overlap, they said. It would be Toyota's smallest model and a high-end car for Daihatsu.
"The compact and minivehicle markets are growing rapidly and together account for more than 40 percent of new car sales in Japan," Toyota President Fujio Cho told a joint news conference.
"This new car combines Toyota's strength in development technology and quality control with Daihatsu's know-how in small car development," he said.
The two companies would aim to meet demand for high-performance small cars in China, India, South America and Eastern Europe through similar cooperation, Cho said, though he added that no concrete plans had been drawn up yet.
Daihatsu would eventually consider exporting and producing the model overseas, President Takaya Yamada said.
At 21.0 km per liter (49.4 miles per gallon), the model's fuel efficiency is in the top range even including 660 cc minivehicles. Cabin space is the largest in its class, they said.
"We've been losing about 4,000 units of sales a month in the minivehicle market to compact cars, and only a few percent of that flows to our own brand," Daihatsu's Yamada said.
"We wanted to guard our sales, and maybe even steal sales away from Toyota's Vitz (subcompact)," he joked.
Monthly sales targets are 7,000 units for the Passo and 1,500 units for the Boon. Both cars, to be built by Daihatsu, start at 900,000 yen ($8,122) before taxes.
Shares in Toyota rose 2.22 percent to 4,150 yen on Monday, while Daihatsu's gained 2.92 percent to 670 yen, along with a rise in the broader Tokyo market.