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Japan’s Hino and VW to team up on range of digital, green vehicle technologies

AP, Kyodo

Hino Motors, Toyota Motor Corp.’s group truck manufacturer, and Volkswagen Truck & Bus of Germany agreed Thursday to form a partnership on the technologies behind hybrids, electric cars, autonomous driving and connectivity.

Each company will maintain independence under the deal, but executive teams will work together to map out cooperation on innovative technology and leveraging their market positions.

The arrival of the digital age and robotics in the auto industry is pressuring automakers around the world to deliver vehicles that connect to the net or avoid crashes automatically.

Partnerships can save on costs and boost competitiveness. Automakers are also trying to respond to a global push to reduce global warming and pollution by developing cleaner powertrains.

The deal brings together two major players in trucks and buses, a sector that some analysts say can benefit the most from new tech.

Hino Motors President and CEO Yoshio Shimo said the deal came together because the companies respected each other and shared goals.

“It will also be a strong tie-up at times of new challenges in the field of transportation due to the rapid growth of e-commerce,” he said.

Consumers in Japan and other rapidly graying countries are looking for new transportation options, he said.

Shimo said Hino’s relationship with Toyota will remain unchanged but added it is difficult to find solutions for commercial vehicle challenges just within the Toyota group.

Andreas Renschler, a board member at Volkswagen AG and CEO of Volkswagen Truck & Bus, said the deal was strategic for his company because Hino was strong in Asia.

He shook hands with Shimo in front of reporters in Tokyo.

“It is an excellent fit in terms of regional footprints and products, but also concerning common ideas on how to shape the future of transportation together,” Renschler said.

Renschler said there is a need for “further investments and technology capabilities” in the transportation industry, adding, “We are convinced that by joining our forces to tackle these challenges, we will be able to turn challenges into chances.”

Ahead of the official announcement, Hino’s shares jumped Thursday, climbing 5.5 percent to finish at ¥1,420 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange following news reports on the deal.