Mazda And Toyota Consider Partnership
Toyota loves its partnerships. Most recently, we’ve seen the automaker team up with Subaru to create the universally loved FR-S/BRZ, while BMW is lending a hand in the creation of the new Supra. Now, it appears as though there’s another joint venture in the works, as Mazda may join Toyota to trade drivetrain technologies between the brands.
Citing two unidentified internal sources, Reuters is reporting the two Japanese makes are currently in the midst of talks to expand their existing tech and production tie-up, with Toyota possibly providing its hydrogen fuel-cell and plug-in hybrid know-how in exchange for Mazda’s fuel-efficient SkyActiv gas and diesel engine tech.
The report states Mazda has already attempted to develop its own hydrogen-powered vehicles, but will now turn to Toyota to help speed up the process. Toyota has previously released a few of its FCV patents to the public for free in the hopes of increasing industry adoption of hydrogen technology and bolstering infrastructure investment.
The two companies are expected to reach an agreement soon, but so far officials have yet to report any details.
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Why it matters
If Mazda wants to get in on the hydrogen game, it’s looking in the right place. Toyota is currently the only automaker in the world mass-producing a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle (the Mirai) and should be considered the top leader in the field. Not only is Toyota making the cars, its also laying the groundwork to support them, investing in H refueling stations in the Northeast and Southern California.
Honda is doing the same thing, unveiling its 2014 FCV concept and throwing money into creating H refueling stations. Toyota, however, seems more committed. It’s already had to ramp up production of the Mirai on two separate occasions, most recently tripling its manufacturing output due to huge unexpected demand. Toyota originally planned on selling just 400 Mirais in 2015, but revised its projections to 700 for this year, 2,000 for 2016, and 3,000 for 2017. According to AutoExpress, roughly 60 percent of the orders came from Japanese government and private fleet customers, while 40 percent were from private buyers.
As emissions standards become stricter, hydrogen power may be the way to go for some brands. Hydrogen power offers many of the benefits of traditional ICE-powered cars, including extended range and quick refill times. Other hydrogen-power developers include Hyundai, BMW, Mercedes, and General Motors.
However, electric power is another option, but once again, Toyota seems to be leading the way forward, with the Prius often cited as the original model that upended the world of alternative commuter vehicles.
It may not look like much, but the Mirai is undoubtedly represents the future for many folks out there. The interior is futuristic, with curved elements in the dash and a large central screen containing many vehicle functions, plus a variety of high-tech features like blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and automatic high beams. Most interesting, though, is the drivetrain, which contains a fuel-cell stack powering an electric motor for 153 horsepower. Sixty mph is reached in nine seconds, while a refuel will only take you about five minutes. After incentives, early buyers should expect to pay roughly $45,000, but that includes all kinds of services, including complimentary hydrogen fuel for three years.
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