Just four months ago, Mazda executives said the automaker would keep its focus on improving its gasoline engine, claiming hybrids and electric vehicles would remain a “niche market” until at least 2015. Since then, the company has announced that it will release a hybrid of its own in the 20-teens, as sales of vehicles like the 2010 Honda Insight and 2010 Toyota Prius have taken off. According to the Japanese Nikkei business daily, Mazda will be aided by the automaker behind the world’s most popular hybrid system: Toyota.
The paper reported Thursday that the two Japanese automakers were in the final stages of discussing a plan for Toyota to supply core hybrid components to its much smaller rival. Toyota’s Prius is the best-selling hybrid in the world.
The deal, according to the Nikkei, would call for Toyota to supply the batteries, motors, control units, and other components for a hybrid vehicle Mazda is planning to launch as early as 2013. Mazda reportedly is setting a sales target of 100,000 vehicles for the new model, presumably worldwide as that figure would be 8 percent of its total sales last year.
Mazda’s only current hybrid vehicle is the Ford-sourced Mazda Tribute hybrid SUV. Despite the fact that Toyota’s hybrid system is the most popular in the world, we find it interesting that Mazda wouldn’t want to source its hybrid components from Ford–especially since the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is an excellent vehicle.
Both Mazda and Toyota declined to comment on whether they were holding talks, and denied that any agreement had been reached between them.