Toy­ota joins hands with Mazda

Com­pa­nies to form new ven­ture for elec­tric car tech­nol­ogy

The Gulf Today - Business - - 4international -

TOKYO: Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion has es­tab­lished a new ven­ture to de­velop elec­tric ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy with part­ner Mazda Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion, seek­ing to catch up with ri­vals in an in­creas­ingly fre­netic race to pro­duce more bat­tery-pow­ered cars.

Toy­ota Pres­i­dent Akio Toy­oda and Mazda Pres­i­dent & CEO Masamichi Ko­gai were present dur­ing a joint press con­fer­ence in Tokyo on Au­gust 4, 2017. Ja­panese auto gi­ant Toy­ota and smaller ri­val Mazda said that they agreed a cap­i­tal tie-up to fo­cus on joint de­vel­op­ment of elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Pol­i­cy­mak­ers in key mar­kets like China are push­ing a shift to elec­tric cars over the next two to three decades, while rel­a­tively new ri­val Tesla Inc is gain­ing mo­men­tum, pres­sur­ing tra­di­tional au­tomak­ers to crank up plans for fully elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVS).

At the same time, de­clin­ing bat­tery costs are en­abling more power to be packed into cars, mak­ing an elec­tric car fu­ture eas­ier to imag­ine.

Toy­ota said in a state­ment the new com­pany will de­velop tech­nol­ogy for a range of elec­tric cars, in­clud­ing minive­hi­cles, pas­sen­ger cars, SUVS and light trucks.

Toy­ota will take a 90 per cent stake in the joint ven­ture, called EV Com­mon Ar­chi­tec­ture Spirit Co Ltd, while Mazda and Denso Cor­po­ra­tion, Toy­ota’s big­gest sup­plier, will each take 5 per cent.

The plans build on a part­ner­ship an­nounced in Au­gust when Ja­pan’s big­gest au­tomaker agreed to take a 5 per cent stake in Mazda and two said they would jointly de­velop af­ford­able elec­tric ve­hi­cle tech­nolo­gies.

Although Toy­ota is pro­vid­ing most of the fi­nan­cial fire­power and ex­ist­ing EV know-how, Mazda’s en­gi­neers have gained the ad­mi­ra­tion of the in­dus­try with break-through tech­nolo­gies such as its com­pres­sion ig­ni­tion en­gine an­nounced last month.

Shares in Mazda surged to end the day 3 per cent higher, while those in Denso rose 1.8 per cent. Toy­ota shares were flat.

Both au­tomak­ers are some­what be­hind ri­vals, with nei­ther hav­ing a fully elec­tric pas­sen­ger car on the mar­ket yet.

Af­ter years of fo­cus­ing on bring­ing hy­dro­gen fuel cell ve­hi­cles to the mar­ket, Toy­ota last year set up a di­vi­sion to de­velop elec­tric cars which is led by Pres­i­dent Akio Toy­oda, and said it plans to in­tro­duce EVS in China in the com­ing years.

That di­vi­sion would con­tinue as a sep­a­rate en­tity from the new joint ven­ture, a Toy­ota spokes­woman said, while adding that the two teams would co-op­er­ate on tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment.

Mazda has an R&D bud­get a frac­tion of Toy­ota’s, which has made it dif­fi­cult to de­velop elec­tric cars on its own. Even so, it has said it plans to launch EVS in 2020. By com­par­i­son, Nis­san Mo­tor Co has the world’s top sell­ing elec­tric car, the Leaf, and it and part­ner Re­nault ex­pect elec­tric mod­els to ac­count for 30 per cent of their ve­hi­cle sales by 2022.

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