Toyota New Zealand has not yet made final plans for distributing Daihatsu vehicles from May 1, the Independent News (INL) website stuff.co.nz said today. Toyota owns 51 percent of Daihatsu in Japan and its New Zealand subsidiary is a wholly-owned unit.

The current importer, Daihatsu New Zealand, announced last November that it was pulling the plug on distribution operations, citing a decline in the country's small car market, competition from used car imports and exchange rate uncertainties.

The INL website quoted Toyota NZ chairman Bob Field as saying there are 35 Daihatsu dealers throughout New Zealand but TNZ had not yet decided whether distribution from May would be arranged through its own or existing Daihatsu dealers.

Until Toyota had more time to study the best means of integrating the Daihatsu brand, Field said, it was premature to speculate about possible roles for the existing dealer network.

"We are going to be analysing that over the next couple of months," Field told INL. "Whatever happens, the Daihatsu dealers will be looked after as well as, if not better than the past."

INL's website added that Daihatsu represents fewer than one percent of the Kiwi new car market. It also cited an earlier statement in which Field said that integrating the two product lines would generate benefits for the customers of both brands.

"The customers won't notice any difference," INL quoted Field as saying. "It is just a question of whether they get their parts and service from the (Daihatsu) dealer or from a Toyota dealer that has yet to be resolved. We have got a more extensive network ourselves so it won't be any less convenient."