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LA show: Mazda to remain independent

Badge swap: Mazda’s agreement with Toyota has seen the launch of the Mazda2-based Yaris sedan in the US.

Mazda commits to solo future but Fiat agreement unclear beyond current MX-5

30 Nov 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in LOS ANGELES

MAZDA Motor Corporation president and CEO Akira Marumoto says that the Japanese car-maker will remain an independent company and will not follow the lead of some of its rivals by forming permanent alliances with other brands.
 
While Mazda has a number of strategic partnerships with other manufacturers, including Toyota, Mr Marumoto said the company could survive on its own.
 
“In terms of the alliance with Toyota, we have two basic concepts of philosophy,” he told Australian journalists at the Los Angeles motor show this week. “First we should maintain independence of brand and management.
 
“And second, wherever we can collaborate, we should do so and have a win-win relationship.
 
“We will capitalise five strong points of Mazda, and we have now an alliance with Toyota, so with this I think Mazda can survive into the future.”
 
Left: Mazda Motor Corporation president and CEO Akira Marumoto
 
However, Mr Marumoto said that he would not consider a partnership with other brands to fully co-develop an iconic Mazda model, such as the MX-5.
 
“MX-5 is Mazda’s icon, so we will never ever share that, because it violates our basic principle of maintaining or protecting independence of the brand,” he said.
 
“However, we are already progressing cooperation or tie up with companies other than Toyota for some region or projects.”
 
The relationship with Fiat to produce the MX-5-based 124 Spider was led by Mazda and seen more as a badge engineering exercise, rather than a co-development.
 
When asked whether the relationship with Fiat would continue beyond the current-generation MX-5 and 124 Spider, Mr Marumoto said the latter model had its own identity and added that a relationship beyond the existing models had not yet been determined.
 
“When you are talking about the Fiat Spider, the powertrain engine is Fiat and suspension tuning has been done by Fiat and the design is completely different, so therefore we are protecting independence of the brand,” he said.
 
“And the sportscar like MX-5 has a long life cycle, so during that life cycle we will continue the relationship with Fiat. But for the next cycle and beyond, nothing has been decided yet.”
 
Mr Marumoto highlighted the other strategic alliances the company has with other manufacturers globally.
 
“For example, in Japan for the micro-car business, we have a partnership with Suzuki. And for the next-generation pick-up truck, we will tie-up with Isuzu. So whenever there is a chance coming up, we will consider that.”
 
Toyota and Mazda signed an agreement in 2015 to collaborate on future projects, some of which included sharing powertrain technology. 
 
The two car-makers also share some models in other markets, including the US-market Yaris sedan, which is a rebadged Mazda2.

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