Mazda says Toyota tie-up could yield electric, connected cars

Mazda's Akira Marumoto: Broad discussions with Toyota

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. have discussed electric vehicles and connected cars as part of at least 10 potential areas for cooperation, the latest indication Japan’s automakers will join forces to cope with technological trends shaking up their industry.

Mazda is having broad discussions with Toyota, Akira Marumoto, Mazda’s executive vice president, told reporters Wednesday at a briefing in Tokyo. He declined to provide more detail on talks the automakers have had since last year on expanding ties beyond their sharing of hybrid systems and compact car production in Mexico.

More joint work between Toyota and Mazda would add to a trend of Japan’s largest automakers consolidating the industry by way of acquisition or alliance. Toyota bought out the rest of minicar maker Daihatsu Motor Co. earlier this year and is exploring a research and development partnership with Suzuki Motor Corp. A fuel economy scandal also led Nissan Motor Co. to buy a stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in a transaction completed last month.

Toyota also is the majority owner of Hino Motors Ltd., the largest shareholder in Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and has a stake in Isuzu Motors Ltd. President Akio Toyoda and Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki said last month they began talks due to the daunting financial demands of keeping pace with advances in electrification and autonomous driving.

A Toyota representative declined to immediately comment on talks with Mazda.

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