Toyota is granting Mazda a licence to exploit the hybrid technology used in its Prius saloon. Toyota has thirteen years of experience in hybrids and has produced 2.3 million vehicles with hybrid drive-trains, a lead that any new market entrant would find almost impossible to close, even with a well-funded R&D programme.
However, the Mazda hybrids won't rely entirely on bought-in know-how to get results; they will combine Toyota's technology with Mazda's own forthcoming high-efficiency direct-injection SKY petrol engines shown last year at the Tokyo Motor Show. The company expects its first hybrids to go on sale in Japan in 2013 and says that its 2015 cars will emit 30 per cent less CO2 than its 2008 models.
There isn't really much of a history of co-operation between Toyota and Mazda, which has in the past tended to plough its own technical furrow; it is the only car manufacturer to persevere with the Wankel rotary engine, for example. Mazda has also traditionally been allied with Ford, although those links have loosened as Ford has divested itself of overseas shareholdings in order to concentrate on is core "blue oval" brand.Reuse content