That Toyota and Mazda, already in a loose partnership since 2015, would cozy-up a little closer was Tokyo’s worst-kept secret. Last May, the Nikkei wrote that “Toyota Motor and Mazda Motor are in the final stages of talks on a comprehensive partnership.” Yesterday, the Nikkei said that the two would be heading towards “a capital partnership,” and that they would build a joint plant in the U.S. Then, Reuters wrote the same. This Tokyo afternoon, reporters who attended Toyota’s quarterly results meeting were asked to hold their questions until a joint press conference with Mazda at 7pm Tokyo time. At 5pm, all dams of confidentiality were broken, and the two companies confirmed that the knot would be tied.
In a joint statement, the two companies confirmed that they will both buy 5% of the other company’s shares, that they will build the joint plant in an as yet undecided U.S. location, that they will together develop “technologies for electric vehicles,” connected technologies, as well as “advanced safety technologies,” Toyota-speak for what elsewhere would be called autonomous drive.
The joint U.S. plant is a win-win-win for Mazda, Toyota, and President Trump. When Trump embarked on his crusaded against un-American car production, Mazda was high on possible target lists. Mazda has no plant in the U.S., and imports its cars from Mexico and Japan. Toyota, which was first to attract Trump’s wrath, should be safe from any attacks for a while. Not much is known about the joint factory, but the announcement that it will provide 4,000 American jobs featured prominently today. Trump has another win, never mind that those jobs won’t be created for many years.
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