Mazda To Lean On Toyota For Hybrid, Fuel-Cell Expertise


2016 Mazda 6

2016 Mazda 6

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Mazda and Toyota will work together over the next few years in an arrangement that will see the two carmakers pool their green technologies.

Japan's largest carmaker and one of its smallest will enter into a "mutually beneficial long-term partnership," according to a press release issued by Mazda.

No timeline was given for the start or the duration of this partnership, and the two companies did not discuss how it relates to plans for any specific future vehicles.

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A "joint committee" will be set up to determine "how best to utilize each company's respective strengths," the release said.

The announcement follows media reports that Mazda and Toyota had reached a deal wherein the smaller company will borrow the larger company's fuel-cell and hybrid technology for future models.

Plug-in electric vehicles were not mentioned by either company.

Toyota chief Akio Toyoda (left) and Mazda chief Masamichi Kogai

Toyota chief Akio Toyoda (left) and Mazda chief Masamichi Kogai

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Access to Mazda's highly efficient Skyactiv gasoline and diesel engines could also sweeten the deal for Toyota, whose CEO Akio Toyoda praised them in remarks at the announcement of the alliance.

Non-hybrid powertrains using the suite of Skyactiv technologies have helped imbue Mazda's recent models with sporty driving dynamics--without sacrificing fuel economy.

That's won Mazda lots of praise in the automotive press, but the company's small size still puts it at a major disadvantage.

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The company may not be able to cover the development costs of the complex powertrain technologies it will likely need to stay competitive in a global market with constantly-tightening emissions standards.

The expense of building cars in Japan is also a burden for Mazda, along with similarly-sized competitors Subaru and Mitsubishi.

Having access to Toyota's fund of knowledge and, errrr, funds will likely help Mazda gain a foothold in different green-car segments.

2016 Scion iA

2016 Scion iA

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The two companies have already collaborated on a couple of projects.

Toyota supplied powertrain components for a hybrid version of the Mazda 3 compact that is not sold in the U.S.

MORE: BMW, Toyota Confirm Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Technology Deals (Jan 2013)

And the 2016 Mazda 2 subcompact will form the basis for the 2016 Scion iA sedan that goes on sale later this year. Mazda will build the iA in Mexico, for sale in North America only.

Toyota also has an ongoing arrangement with BMW to share hydrogen fuel-cell technology, while BMW is understood to be helping in the development of a new Toyota sports car that would revive the beloved Supra name.

That vehicle too may use a hybrid powertrain.

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