On Thursday, the two Japanese automaker companies, Toyota and Mazda Motor Corporation, are teaming up together with an auto parts supplier, Denso, to create a joint venture for developing electric vehicles, as Japan’s biggest automaker plays catch up with rivals in an increasingly frantic race to produce more battery-driven vehicles.
The three companies said in a joint statement that joint research, sharing cost, engineers, and knowledge are necessary to meet increasingly stringent but changing environmental standards around the world.
In August, Toyota agreed to take a 5% stake in smaller rival Mazda and the two have highlighted plans to jointly develop affordable electric vehicle technologies.
The new company, known as EV Common Architecture Spirit Co Ltd., will cooperate on the developing the architecture and components of electric cars for use in a wide range of segments, from minicars and SUVs to light trucks, the companies said in a statement.
Toyota will take a 90% stake in the joint venture while Mazda and Denso, Toyota’s biggest supplier, will each take a 5% stake. The venture is said to be launched next month in the central city of Nagoya, near the automaker’s headquarters.
The move came as Toyota, producer of the bestselling hybrid vehicle Prius, steps up efforts to develop clean technologies, including electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid systems that use both petrol and electricity as energy sources.
Meanwhile, global automakers are accelerating their efforts to develop EV as policymakers in key markets like China are aggressively pushing the shift to electric cars over the next two to three decades, pressuring traditional car makers to crank up their electric vehicle plans, just as decreasing battery costs enable more power to be packed into cars.
“With (electric vehicles) yet to find widespread market acceptance, the huge investments and time required to cover all markets and vehicle segments are a pressing issue for individual automakers,” the report said.
The companies said increasingly stringent emissions regulations were forcing automakers around the world to develop electric vehicles. But the high cost of electric cars, driven partly by their expensive batteries, makes it necessary for previous rivals to pool resources. The new venture will be open to participation from other automakers and supplies going forward, the companies added.
“Each company will be responsible for the development of specific vehicles, and the procurement parts will be unaffected by which suppliers participate in this fundamental technology development phase,” Toyota spokesman Jean-Yves Jault said.
“Each company will have complete freedom to make its own decisions about product development.”
Toyota is expected to start selling new EVs in China within the next few years. It also said that in the early 2020s it intends to introduce vehicles with next-generation solid-state batteries, which enable faster charging and longer range.
Shares of Toyota were flat in the morning trade, while shares in Mazda were up 3% and Denso’s increased 1.8%.
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