Mazda makes the Yaris ia for Toyota, and the companies hope to explore other cross-sales opportunities thanks to a new partnership that calls for the companies to build a joint $1.6 billion plant in the U.S. by 2021.
Cleveland, Ohio – Toyota and Mazda plan to build a joint-venture plant in the U.S. to manufacture vehicles, part of an expansion of a partnership that began in 2015.
No site options have been listed for the planned $1.6 billion plant that would employ as many as 4,000 people. Toyota has massive plants in Kentucky, Indiana, and Texas (in addition to engine plants in Alabama and West Virginia).
Mazda has not had a U.S. manufacturing base since 2012 when it stopped building vehicles in Flat Rock, Michigan. Mazda had operated that plant in conjunction with Ford Motor Co. as part of a cross-ownership structure that effectively gave Ford control of the Japanese automaker. Ford sold that controlling stake in 2008, raising more than $500 million to fund its restructuring efforts.
Mazda and Toyota both have plants in Mexico that supply U.S. sales operations.
When the new plant opens in 2021, Toyota plans to build a new version of the Corolla compact car, and Mazda plans on making crossover models there. Toyota now builds the Corolla in Mississippi, and the automaker has not named a new product for that facility.
"The greatest fruit of our partnership with Mazda is that we have found a new partner who truly loves cars,” said Toyota President Akio Toyoda. “It has also sparked Toyota's competitive spirit, increasing our sense of not wanting to be bested by Mazda."
In addition to the joint plant, each company plans to buy a large number of shares in the other (a common partnership practice within the Japanese auto industry) and jointly develop electric vehicle, connected car, and advanced safety technologies. They will also look for more opportunities to market each other’s vehicles. Mazda now supplies Toyota with the Yaris ia, formerly the Scion ia, in the U.S., and Toyota supplies Mazda with commercial vans in Japan.
Mazda President and CEO Masamichi Kogai said, "Through this alliance, we can help to energize the auto industry and create more car fans by bringing together two competitive spirits to spur each other on, leading to innovations and fostering talent and leaders."
About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 17 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.