Mazda and Toyota Ink Hybrid Agreement

Mazda and Toyota have announced a licensing agreement whereby Mazda will utilize the hybrid technology that is at the heart of the Toyota Prius.

Mazda and Toyota have announced a licensing agreement whereby Mazda will utilize the hybrid technology that is at the heart of the Toyota Prius. Mazda plans to use the hybrid system with the SKY next-generation direct-injection gasoline engine that it is currently developing. Plans are to have the Mazda hybrid on the roads of Japan by 2013.

This is a significant agreement for a number of reasons. For one thing, the Prius system is the most prevalent automotive hybrid on the planet right now. Toyota started selling the Prius in Japan in 1997 and since then, 2.3-million of its hybrids have been sold.

By making this licensing agreement with Mazda, it will have the opportunity to further establish its hybrid system as the defacto standard. Greater volumes of this hybrid system mean that there are greater opportunities for suppliers, and can lead to reduced overall costs through economies of scale. Mazda gets another means by which it can reach its goal of improving fuel economy across its entire lineup by 30% compared with 2008 levels by 2015.

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Certainly, Mazda is no technological slouch. For example, the SKY-G is a complete rethink of an engine, as they’re not only looking at combustion issues (assuring that the direct injection spray profiles are optimal across the performance band) but at assuring that the mechanism has minimal friction. The engine should provide a 15% increase in both torque and fuel economy compared with its current 2.0-liter engine. There is also a SKY-D being developed: a diesel.

While the end game may be hydrogen-powered vehicles, it is clear that with two competitors signing an agreement on hybrid technology, this is a bridge that has some significant substance.