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Toyota and Mazda confirm tie-in

Signed, sealed: Mazda president and CEO Masamichi Kogai (right) and Toyota president Akio Toyoda (left) sign an agreement to form a “mutually beneficial” partnership.

Rumoured collaboration between Mazda and Toyota confirmed in Japan

Toyota logo14 May 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

TOYOTA and Mazda have signed an agreement to collaborate on future projects, confirming reports from earlier this week of a tie-in between the two Japanese car-makers.

A number of reports suggested that the two companies would share powertrain technology, with Toyota offering Mazda access to its plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell tech, while the latter would open up its SkyActiv petrol and diesel engines to Toyota.

The “mutually beneficial long-term partnership” was announced in Japan overnight, and while both companies are tight lipped on what potential projects the collaboration could lead to, they said in a statement that using each other’s resources will result in “more appealing cars that meet the diverse needs and tastes of customers all over the world”.

A joint committee has been set up to look into the potential for projects that could cover a range of areas, with the statement highlighting “environmental and advanced safety technologies,” which points to shared use of low-emissions powertrain tech.

The auto-makers have collaborated before, with Mazda producing a version of its Mazda2 light sedan, to be sold in the United States under Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand as an iA. It will be built at Mazda’s new plant in Mexico.

Toyota also supplies hybrid drivetrain technology to Mazda for its Japanese-market Mazda3 range.

Mazda is a tiny car-maker on a global scale compared with Toyota – the top-selling brand worldwide for the past three years – but the agreement is not expected to result in a financial partnership similar to the one Mazda established with Ford until 2010.

While Mazda has been rolling out its suite of fuel-efficient SkyActiv petrol and diesel engines for a few years, Toyota has relied heavily on ageing hybrid technology and has only just launched its first turbo-petrol engine, under the bonnet of the Lexus NX.

American publication Automotive News is reporting that the deal gives Toyota a “front-row seat” to further study Mazda, quoting insiders that say the larger car-maker has been “quietly benchmarking” Mazda’s ability to produce high-quality cars on a small budget and make a profit in the process.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda praised Mazda’s recent powertrain tech and styling, and said he had high hopes for the future with the agreement.

“As evidenced by their SkyActiv Technologies and KodoSoul of Motion design, Mazda has proven that it always thinks of what is coming next for vehicles and technology, while still managing to stay true to its basic car-making roots.

“In this way, Mazda very much practices what Toyota holds dear: making ever-better cars. I am delighted that our two companies can share the same vision and work together to make cars better. I can think of nothing more wonderful than showing the world  together  that the next 100 years of cars will be just as fun as the first.”

Mazda president and CEO Masamichi Kogai highlighted Toyota’s early adoption of environmentally friendly powertrain development and said he hoped to improve the perceived value of its cars through the collaboration.

“Toyota is a company that has shown steadfast resolve in acting responsibly on global environmental issues and the future of manufacturing as a whole,” he said. “I also have tremendous respect for Toyota's dedication in its pursuit of ever-better cars through ongoing innovation.

“Furthermore, Mazda identifies with the way Toyota cherishes its roots and all of the communities it is involved in. It is no wonder they are held in great esteem in return.

“I hope that by working together to make cars better, we can raise the value of cars in the eyes of consumers while also enhancing the manufacturing capabilities of our home, Hiroshima, and all the communities we are involved in as well.”

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