The partnership between Toyota and Mazda is now official, as announced by Toyota President Akio Toyoda and Mazda President and CEO Masamichi Kogai. The specifics of the agreement are vague at this point, but Toyoda described the relationship as an engagement rather than a marriage. The first step will be setting up a joint committee to review each companies’ strengths and then evaluate how best to integrate to two.

Going by comments made by the two company heads, the agreement will impact both companies’ core products. Toyota currently licenses its hybrid expertise to Mazda, which is an agreement that could expand to fuel cell technology. On the flipside, Mazda is supplying the Mazda2 as the underpinnings for the upcoming Scion iA. Expect more of this sort of thing moving forward.

During the announcement, Toyoda expressed admiration for Mazda’s SkyActiv engine tech and current KODO design language, while Kogai praised Toyota’s leadership in hybrid technology and commitment to cleaner cars. Both stressed that the primary goal of the agreement will be to make better cars.

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Why it matters

For a short time in the 1930s, Albert Einstein considered the idea of an oscillating universe theory. (Stay with me on this one.) That is, a singularity followed by a Big Bang and a period of expansion. Once the universe reached its maximum size, gravitational forces would then pull all matter back to its origin point to form a new singularity. Even though it’s been proven incorrect in the field of astrophysics, Einstein may have considered applying it to the international auto industry.

Following the market crash of 2008, the world’s largest car companies began spinning off subsidiaries (Mazda, Volvo, Jaguar) or closing them down (Mercury, Saturn, Oldsmobile) to cut down on overhead and keep their heads above water. The car universe had just experienced a big bang, and everything had been blown apart.

Now, the car universe is cooling and planetary bodies are beginning to coalesce again, as evidenced by this new alliance between Mazda and Toyota. Head of Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles Sergio Marchionne has also recently been very vocal about his desire to form new partnerships, citing the skyrocketing costs of developing cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars, on which companies could be cooperating.

It makes sense from a business standpoint, but, as an enthusiast I fear this trend could cause cars to become even more homologous of one another than they already are.

2016 Mazda MX-5

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
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Press Release

Toyota Motor Corporation and Mazda Motor Corporation today entered an agreement to build a mutually beneficial long term partnership. By leveraging the resources of both companies to complement and enhance each other’s products and technologies, the partnership will result in more appealing cars that meet the diverse need s and tastes of customers all over the world.

A joint committee will now be set up to evaluate how best to utilize each company’s respective strengths. The committee will encourage broad and meaningful collaboration across a range of fields, including environmental and advanced safety technologies.

Marking the agreement, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said: “As evidenced by their SKYACTIV Technologies and KODO—Soul of Motion design, Mazda has proven that it always thinks of what is coming next for vehicles and technology, while still managing to stay true to its basic car making roots. In this way, Mazda very much practices what Toyota holds dear: making ever-better cars. I am delighted that our two companies can share the same vision and work together to make cars better. I can think of nothing more wonderful than showing the world—together—that the next100 years of cars will be just as fun as the first.”

Representing Mazda, President and CEO Masamichi Kogai said: “Toyota is a company that has shown steadfast resolve in acting responsibly on global environmental issues and the future of manufacturing as a whole. I also have tremendous respect for Toyota’s dedication in its pursuit of ever-better cars through ongoing innovation. Furthermore, Mazda identifies with the way Toyota cherishes its roots and all of the communities it is involved in. It is no wonder they are held in great esteem in return. I hope that by working together to make cars better, we can raise the value of cars in the eyes of consumers while also enhancing the manufacturing capabilities of our home, Hiroshima, and all the communities we are involved in as well.”

Previous collaboration between Toyota and Mazda has included the licensing of Toyota’s hybrid technologies to Mazda and the production of compact cars for Toyota at Mazda’s plant in Mexico.

Toyota and Mazda recognize that there is considerable overlap between Mazda’s corporate philosophy of bringing joy to people through vehicles and Toyota’s commitment to making ever-better cars, as well as its dedication to company-wide structural reforms to realize true competiveness and sustainable growth. This latest agreement will go beyond the traditional framework of cooperation, aiming instead to create a whole new set of values for cars through wide-ranging medium to long term collaboration.

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