Toyota led the automotive industry into the world of hybrid powertrains when it introduced the original Prius 20 years ago, but it was reluctant to launch a full electric model until recently. Mazda is too small to develop a stand-alone electric car on its own because the cost of bringing new technology to the market is astronomical. Now, the two automakers have found common ground and teamed up with Japanese supplier Denso to design and build electric vehicles.
Engineers from Toyota, Mazda, and Denso will help launch a brand-new joint venture called EV Common Architecture Spirit. It will take advantage of each company’s area of expertise. Mazda will contribute its bundled product planning and its prowess in computer modeling-based development, Denso will bring its electronics technology to the table, while Toyota will provide its New Global Architecture, which is the platform found under an array of recent models like the latest Prius and the 2018 Camry.
The partnership’s main goal is to develop a set of basic components capable of powering an electric car. That means lithium-ion battery packs, electric motors, hardware such as wiring, and even software such as engine control modules. Odds are they’ll also look at upcoming tech like solid state batteries. A majority of the components will be modular, so any of the companies with a stake in the deal will be able to quickly respond to shifting market trends. They components will be suitable for mini-vehicles popular in markets like Japan, passenger cars and crossovers, and even light trucks.
Toyota stresses the partnership wasn’t created to badge-engineer the same car for three different companies and flood every international market with it. The end goal is “the creation of appealing EVs that embody the unique identities of each brand and avoid the commoditization of EVs.” If anything, it sounds like the companies want to avoid making cookie-cutter pods that ferry lackadaisical motorists from point A to point B.
Toyota will own 90 percent of EV Common Architecture Spirit, according to The Verge, while Mazda and Denso will each hold a 5-percent stake. When we can expect to see the new brand’s first product hasn’t been announced yet.