Toyota And Mazda Form Partnership

BY Azfar Hashim

Long-term partnership signed to 'address cost and technical challenges'

Photos courtesy of Reuters and Japan Daily

Toyota Motor Corporation and Mazda Motor Corporation have agreed to form a long-term partnership that deepens collaboration on products, manufacturing and technologies. The agreement, announced on May 13, states that both carmakers will form a joint committee to evaluate how best to utilise each other's respective strengths.

The announcement comes amid media reports that said the two companies are exploring numerous projects. Among them would be an arrangement in which Toyota supplies Mazda with its hydrogen fuel cell system and plug-in hybrid technology, in exchange for receiving Mazda’s fuel-efficient Skyactiv gasoline and diesel engine technology.

The latest move comes as global automakers increasingly pool resources on expensive green-car development. In hydrogen fuel cell technology, for example, Nissan has teamed with Ford and Daimler AG, while Honda is working with General Motors.

Mazda’s high-compression Skyactiv engines, efficient transmission and lightweight chassis systems, as well as its Kodo design language, are prime examples of areas where Mazda leads Toyota by a “full lap,” Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said.

Toyota aims to change that, however, with a new modularized product platform that debuts later this year and will underpin future cars. It is also playing catch up with engines; Toyota is revamping base engines across the lineup. The new technologies Toyota is working on includes direct injection, turbocharging, high compression ratios and lean-burning Atkinson-cycle combustion. Just last month, Toyota said it was stepping up a global engine upgrade of 14 high-efficiency engines through 2015, with the deployment of a new downsized turbo unit.