By on August 4, 2017

Mazda Driver's Choice YouTube Screenshot - Image: Mazda YouTube Channel

Toyota Motor Corp. is set to strike a deal to take a 5-percent stake in fellow Japanese automaker Mazda Motor Corp. The alliance includes the construction of a joint-venture $1.6 billion U.S. automotive plant and sharing EV technology — showing that Mazda hasn’t totally sworn off the idea of an electric car.

The two companies have been dating casually for a couple of years; Toyota sometimes uses Mazda’s Mexican factory to build compact cars, the two have fostered a love child (the Mazda 2-based Toyota Yaris iA), but this is the first time they’ve seriously considered moving in together. Toyota claimed the decision was about more than just a strategy to share technology, suggesting the automakers had genuine feelings for one another.

“The greatest fruit of our partnership with Mazda is that we have found a new partner who truly loves cars,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in a statement, “It has also sparked Toyota’s competitive spirit, increasing our sense of not wanting to be bested by Mazda. This is a partnership in which those who are passionate about cars will work together to make ever-better cars. It is also the realization of our desire to never let cars become commodities.”

However Toyota doesn’t want to be tied down to one company. The brand also has a 16.5 percent stake in Subaru, and explained that its 2015 technology-sharing foray was “an engagement announcement, not a marriage announcement.”

The wedding is definitely still on.

“Nothing would please me more than if, through this alliance, we can help to energize the auto industry and create more car fans by bringing together two competitive spirits to spur each other on, leading to innovations and fostering talent and leaders,” said Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai of the union.

While the partnership helps keep Toyota as the world’s largest carmaker, Mazda has the most to gain. With no production facilities within the United States, there’s definitely some apprehension about what might happen if Donald Trump delivers on his protectionist promises — especially since North America makes up the over a third of Mazda’s revenue (and 21 percent of it operating profits in 2016).

With an R&D budget of roughly 140 billion yen ($1.27 billion) for 2017, Mazda also lacks the funds to develop electric cars on its own — a problem shared by Subaru and Suzuki. However, Toyota swooped in with a sack of money to help them while also helping itself.

At the new U.S. factory, Mazda intends to produce jointly developed models specifically for the North American market, while Toyota plans to build the Corolla. Excess Tacoma production will be sent over to the company’s new Mexican facility, which was originally built to handle the Corolla.

Pending approval from relevant government agencies, the companies will begin to examine detailed plans with the goal to start operations at the new plant by 2021. Toyota claims it will have capacity of approximately 300,000 units and create 4,000 American jobs.

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46 Comments on “Mazda and Toyota Take Their Relationship to the Next Level, Start Planning an Assembly Plant...”

  • avatar

    Forever they should live together in turboless bliss!

  • avatar

    Doesn’t Toyota already have a Corolla plant in the U.S.?


    This is a good development for Mazda. They haven’t had domestic production capability in quite some time. This’ll help them out, for sure.

  • avatar

    Good, Mazda can throw out all their engines and focus on everything else. Plop the Camry V6 in the Mazda 6 would be a good start.

    • 0 avatar

      This ought to do. I know Mazda prides themselves on their disciplined balance approach, but they need two extra cylinders for a lot of their cars. Since they’re only willing to put their turbo in the CX9, maybe they could slide toyota’s V6 into the Mazda6 or the CX9 as an option. Not sure why everybody is dropping their 6’s, but soon it might be a unique feature.

    • 0 avatar

      Have you driven a Mazda recently? The Skyactiv engines are pretty good for a 4 cylinder. Quite efficient, decent punch and match well with the automatic transmission.

      They definitely won’t drop the next gen Skyactiv engine. I’m pretty sure it’s a done deal and going to be introduced in the next gen Mazda 3 and 6.

      Agreed on the V6 though. It would be nice option on the next Mazda6 though they’ll probably drop the turbo Skyactiv in there.

      • 0 avatar

        Seriously, what a laugh. Mazda’s engines are way more efficient than some of these Toyota 4-cylinders. If there’s anything they should NOT drop, it’s their engines. What they could use is access to MORE engines.

        Also, they should not drop their suspension tuning. If anything, Toyota should put Mazda in charge of suspension tuning for Toyota on-road vehicles. (Not that it will happen like that.)

  • avatar

    Bit by bit, Toyota is getting further and further into more of the other Japanese manufacturers.

    I can’t wait to see the 2022 Toyota PriusMiata!

  • avatar

    Glad to see Trump’s threats are having some fruitful results. It is good to see after prior administration did everything possible to support globalization and care so little for US production, there is focus on made in America again.

    Here is hoping all silverado production and most content comes back to America, until then GM may be hurting on that front.

  • avatar

    Toyota: Subaru I want you to meet somebody. *brings out Mazda*

    Subaru: Who the hell is this?

    Toyota: Your sister wife. Mazda, Subaru. Subaru, Mazda.

    Mazda/Subaru: *incoherent bickering and frivolous questions*

    Toyota: *drops briefcase full on money on kitchen counter that makes sound similar to Law And Order gong*

    Mazda/Subaru: Oh my goooood, hey sister wife, so glad you’re part of the family etc…..

  • avatar

    ” automakers had genuine feelings for one another.”

    Sure. 2 quality companies. Mazda3-based Corolla (or at least one with Mazda powertrain) and Sienna-based Mazda MPV… how can you lose this game? Highlander with CX9 engine will probably be more fun than current 2.7L

    • 0 avatar

      I say take it further.

      Mazda, Daihatsu and Suzuki should develop B and C class vehicles, 4 cylinder engines, (and Mazda can help with design of D vehicles in terms of suspension and steering, and please, styling).

      Collaborate on the next 86/BRZ/RX with Subaru, remake on a enlarged Miata platform, lose the boxer in all but the Subie, let Mazda do a rotary and a regular 4, Toyota with a non-rotary Mazda I-4. Develop RWD sedan and wagon/shooting brake versions, as separate models/names, for economies of scale purposes.

      A small lineup of RWD enthusiast-focused vehicles sold through three or more brands? Might stand a better chance of making the formula work in a business sense. If anyone has the money to spend on such a gamble, Toyota does.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      Yeah, Toyota had some mighty strong feelings for Daihatsu when the Move pushed the Corolla off the top of the Japanese sale charts after 20 years….

  • avatar

    And thus Mazda blood line becomes diluted. Today Mazda is 5% Toyota, in a few years that will become 25%, then 50, then 75% and the next thing we know Mazda is gone.

  • avatar

    Mazda driving dynamics with Toyota drivetrain refinement and reliability? No one can beat that combination.

  • avatar

    This is great news for Mazda. I love my Mazda but ultimately, they’re a niche player and having a friend with deep pockets is definitely in their best interests.

  • avatar

    Ford blew it. They should have kept Mazda to replace Mercury. Mazda’s current drive to be more up scale would be much more successful if they were sold in the same dealer as Lincoln. Many more dealers with an up scale show room and service department.
    By doing that, Ford and Mazda would not have been in direct competition with main stream products as they previously were.
    Ford would not have invested more money as Mazda self funded their current products. They would have access to each others engines, transmissions and platforms but would not be obligated.

    PS, Mazda and Ford are my two favorite car manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford was hurting for cash at the time and Alan Mulally was fixated on One Ford (he even wanted to get rid of Lincoln), so I don’t think he envisioned anything to replace Mercury other than a higher-than-Platinum/Titanium/Unobtanium trim Ford.

      • 0 avatar

        I wonder if they’re still considering killing Lincoln. In Europe Ford does’t have a Lincoln equivalent brand; they have the fancy-pants Vignale trim level instead. Here in the States, they’ve just gone above the Titanium trim level to add a Platinum trim level. Hm.

        Granted, in Europe it’s maybe not considered as weird for carmakers to have huge price spreads–e.g. Mercedes-Benz running the gamut from A-class to AMG.

  • avatar

    I think Mazda probably will get absorbed into some other company. That’s fine with me, but hopefully they stay true to their roots in the process. But lets face it, How zoom zoomy were the Mazda Navajo, Mazda B-series and Tribute? There is such focus on volume in the car industry, we are truly lucky there is anything at all left for enthusiasts.

    I have to admit, I was sort of hoping for rebadged Chrysler cars based on the Mazda 3 and 6. I am guessing that is off the table.

  • avatar

    I can totally see them quietly switching to build the plant in Mexico instead of the US.

    Mexican built Toyota’s are simply terrible, far worse than those of other brands built there save VW. Look at the latest Gen Tacoma compared to the stellar NUMMI era rig. Forums are chalk full of people so fed up with their trucks that they would be thrilled to shell out another 10k for a J vin Hilux to cover the chicken tax, or just build the beds here like back in the day to get around it. And yes I realize also assembled in TX, but considering the number of Mexican suppliers utilized to build the thing (bed frame and trim all manufactured in Mexico) its basically a Mexican truck as well.

    Before you write my comments off as bull, I work in vehicle logistics, you wouldn’t believe the quality problems anything has that’s built south of the border VS USA/Europe/Japan.

    Ive been personally involved in the Audi Q5 transition to Mexico. Damages per unit have increased from 1 per 100 units to 35-40 per 50 units. And this is purely JD power like meaningless initial quality, who knows how poorly they will perform down the road.

  • avatar

    Could be a good partnership but who really ever knows with this stuff. Product is one thing, culture is another.

    I kinda thought this might happen. I believe Toyota had said they were floored by what Mazda had done on the new Miata, and at that point I started getting the feeling there was some interest there.

    I could see Mazda getting some advanced drive train tech in exchange for sharing the Miata platform with Toyota and Subaru. Next 86/BRZ on Miata platform, Mazda has a hedge on future mpg requirements if they need it. 5% really isn’t much. I can’t see that being enough to really start integrating fully.

    I highly doubt we’re gonna start seeing Toyota engines in Mazdas or Mazda chassis tuning in Toyotas from this.

    BTW I still don’t understand the hate for Mazda I4 lineup. 90+ pct of all vehicles sold in the classes in which they compete are 4cyl. Sure an upgrade option is nice but fact is nearly every consumer doesn’t choose that. The Mazda engines are more than competitive in that space, excellent fuel economy, and reliable. And yet no matter where I go I always hear the V6/turbo 4 rant nearly immediately after anything Mazda related comes up. And I don’t think I’ll ever understand why.

    • 0 avatar

      Same here. As someone who daily drives a 2016 Mazda6, it has more than enough power. It does 0-60 in 7 seconds and tops out at 130. I’m not sure what more I can or should expect from a family sedan.

      Either way, I think this partnership is a good thing. Toyota already licenses the Prius’ hybrid technology to Mazda for the Japan-only hybrid Mazda3. And the rebadged Mazda2 known as the Toyota Yaris iA is actually selling pretty decently despite Americans’ crossover obsessions.

      • 0 avatar
        Old Scold

        I will vouch for the quality and content of my Mazda 2/Yaris/Scion. I will not call it a Toyota. Decent urban/rural runabout for a small family whose kids have outgrown car seats. 43 mpg on highway with 6M. 30 years ago small families of my acquaintance were driving around in Mark2 VW Jettas of the same size and power output and fewer safety features.

      • 0 avatar

        As another daily ’16 Mazda6 driver, I agree re: the power and the partnership. Let’s try a Mazda turbo power plant in a Toyota 86 and see how improved it would be.

  • avatar

    Toyota is the Borg. Assimilate, resistance is futile.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This is a good alliance for both Toyota and Mazda. Ford should have kept Mazda but as mentioned above that was Mulally and the One Ford policy. My concern is the blending of both cultures.

  • avatar

    Why can’t America have great cars companies, like Toyota, Mazda, and even Nissan.

    Barra what a disgrace!

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