Mazda and Toyota, arguably the two major automakers least invested in electric vehicles, are working on a new joint-venture to develop electric cars.
There’s been a lot of consolidation in the auto industry over the years, but the interesting aspect of this case is that surviving the electric car revolution in the industry is at least partly the reason behind it.
Japan’s Nikkei reported on the new partnership in the work this week:
“As electrification and development competition transform the auto industry, Toyota is casting lines in all directions to stay afloat. Toyota and Mazda look to develop core electric vehicle technologies together by bringing their respective strengths to the table. Toyota has said it aims to have such cars on the market by 2020. Mazda’s plan is to go for a launch in 2019. Each intends to design and produce the actual vehicles independently.”
The joint-venture would also include mutual investments in each company and a new US factory, according to Nikkei.
Today, Toyota confirmed the mutual investments and said that they plan equal funding contributions to a new US plant with a capacity of 300,000 cars per year.
They list electric vehicles as the second reason for the joint-venture:
“With increasing demand and expectations for electric vehicles worldwide, Toyota and Mazda are to explore joint development of technologies for the basic structure of competitive electric vehicles, mobilizing and exchanging expertise freely and actively. These technologies will allow the companies to respond quickly to regulations and market trends in each country. Specific details of the collaboration will be determined as the companies work together going forward.”
Toyota and Mazda have been slow movers in the electric vehicle space. Toyota has been instead betting on hydrogen fuel cell.
They recently showed some signs of moving to battery-electric cars. They announced that Akio Toyoda, the company’s CEO and grandson of founder Kiichiro Toyoda, is now President of a new ‘EV Business Planning’ department that will oversee the launch of an all-electric vehicle by 2020.
As for Mazda, they promised to add all-electric cars in their lineup by 2019, but the vehicles could only be a compliance car based on the company’s comments. Jameson broke down Mazda’s attitude toward EVs earlier this week.
The two Japanese automakers could be looking to finally catch up with their electric vehicle development by combining their efforts. Other automaker tie-ups have partnered on EVs in the past. The Nissan and Renault alliance has been working together on their latest versions of the Leaf and Zoe.
Volkswagen has also use synergy between its brands to develop its upcoming new lineup of EVs. Why not Mazda and Toyota?