After publicly toying with the notion of sourcing hybrid technology from other firms, Mazda announced today that it had reached an agreement to license Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology -- similar to that used in the Prius -- for use in future vehicles.
Although Mazda had originally planned on improving fuel economy primarily through ultra-efficient engines, the growth of hybrid vehicles -- along with incentives crafted by the Japanese government -- spurred Mazda to pursue the deal with Toyota. Licensing the drive system from the other automaker allows Mazda to quickly develop a new hybrid offering. The automaker plans on launching such a vehicle in the Japanese market by 2013.
Mazda will pair Toyota’s HSD system with its new range of fuel sipping “Sky” engines, although we’re uncertain of what combination will ultimately reach production. Thus far, Mazda has shown prototype examples of both gasoline and diesel Sky-family engines, which reportedly deliver 15- and 20-percent boost in fuel economy, respectively.
The move allows Mazda to pursue its goal of increasing fuel economy by improving its corporate fuel economy by 30 percent come 2015, but it also marks the automaker’s increasing autonomy. Previously, Mazda sourced its production-intent hybrid systems (i.e. the Tribute Hybrid) from Ford, which cut its 33-percent stake in the Japanese automaker to 13 percent.