Japanese automakers band together for new US plant and collaborative EV development
Toyota and Mazda Motor Corporations have signed agreement which will see them jointly build a new US manufacturing facility and collaborate on new technology development.
Under the August 4 deal, the two will: establish a joint venture that produces vehicles in the United States; jointly develop technologies for electric vehicles; jointly develop connected-car technology; collaborate on advanced safety technologies, and “expand complementary products.”
It follows collaborative work between the two companies begun in 2015, under which the two agreed to pool resources and to develop complementary technologies.
Under the latest capital tie-up, Toyota will take a stake in Mazda through newly issued shares, while Mazda do the same in Toyota. The value of the shares mutually acquired by both companies will be equivalent.
Exactly how or what form the companies’ EV development approach will take is unclear. In a press statement the two said that they would “explore joint development of technologies for the basic structure of competitive electric vehicles, mobilizing and exchanging expertise freely and actively,” and that these “will allow the companies to respond quickly to regulations and market trends in each country.”
Neither has produced a fully electric vehicle, although the Toyota Prius obviously remains one of the world’s most recognisable hybrids Instead both have thrown more weight behind fuel cell vehicles –Toyota in the form of the Mirai, and Mazda in a modified hydrogen rotary engine. That said, recent months have seen both intimate forays into the world of batteries, Mazda in the form of a possible EV in 2019 and Toyota with revelations of new fast-charging, solid state technology.
What is clear however, is that both will have to work hard to revise their electrification strategies in the face of changing regulation and a new industry movement towards batteries.
Meanwhile, the proposed US$1.6 billion joint venture plant in the US would have an estimated annual production capacity of approximately 300,000 units. Pending approvals by the US government, the companies are now to examine plans, with the goal of starting up a new plant in 2021.
Here, the two said they will also aim to “improve competitiveness in manufacturing through this new production collaboration.” Mazda intends to produce new cross-over models for the North American market, while Toyota will build the Corolla.