Mazda’s long time relationship with Ford is weakening as Mazda looks to Toyota for hybrid drive train technology. In the past Mazda has used Ford’s hybrid system in its sport-utility vehicle, the Tribute, but because Mazda plans to make their new hybrid car in Japan, they decided to lease the technology from Toyota instead. Masaharu Yamaki, Mazda’s executive vice-president, said the group had chosen Toyota’s technology over Ford’s because, “We need to procure components quickly and reliably from domestic suppliers.” The agreement which the two companies had been negotiating since last spring, will include hybrid components such as control systems, inverters and the regenerative braking mechanism.
Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s executive vice-president, said the Mazda deal would help lower production costs for Toyota’s own hybrid cars by expanding the market for shared components. As a result, “We hope that the cost of parts will fall and new innovations will emerge.”