Toyota's new subcompact will use Mazda's Skyactiv engine

Mazda's new assembly plant in Salamanca, Mexico, will allocate about 50,000 vehicles for Toyota from its full annual capacity of 230,000 units.
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SALAMANCA, Mexico -- Toyota Motor Corp. will add Mazda’s fuel-efficient Skyactiv engine to its tiny stable of borrowed powerplants when it sources a new Mazda2-based subcompact from Mazda’s just-opened assembly plant here.

The car will get Toyota-designed sheet metal on the outside but Mazda’s high-compression, fuel-injected Skyactiv gasoline engine under the hood, said Keishi Egawa, CEO of Mazda’s operations in Mexico and director of its plant here.

“They will make model-specific investment for the Toyota vehicle,” Egawa said in an interview at last month’s factory opening. “Stamping, dies -- that is theirs,” he said, as well as “some of the interior design work.” But the Toyota spinoff will use “our engine,” he said.

50,000 a year

The factory will allocate about 50,000 vehicles for Toyota from its full annual capacity of 230,000 units. Output for Toyota is expected to begin after April 1, 2015, but before March 31, 2016.

Using Mazda’s Skyactiv engine may help Toyota burnish the appeal of its subcompact offerings. The car is pegged to replace the lackluster Yaris, the latest generation of which arrived in the United States in the fall of 2011 with a carryover engine and transmission. It would be one of only a few direct-injection engines at Toyota. Only select Lexus nameplates, the Scion FR-S and some Japan-market Toyota sedans, such as the Crown, use direct injection.

For Mazda, it means maximizing economies of scale at its Mexican operation. It also allows Mazda to promote its Skyactiv technology as the powerplant for a well-respected rival.

This year?

Mazda has not released details of the next-generation Mazda2, but it is expected to enter production in Mexico as early as the second half of this year. The company began producing the Skyactiv-equipped Mazda3 sedan and hatchback at the site in January.

While the Japan-market Mazda2 already offers a 1.3-liter Skyactiv engine, the current U.S. version does not get Skyactiv treatment. The next generation is expected to receive the whole set of Skyactiv technologies, including the new engine, transmission and chassis.

Mazda is migrating its entire lineup to the lightweight Skyactiv architecture, which aims to boost fuel economy while maintaining responsive driving dynamics. A key mission of the Salamanca plant is to further the penetration of the Skyactiv lineup in other markets.

Others' engines

A Toyota spokesman confirmed that Toyota’s Mexican-built spinoff of the Mazda2 will get a Mazda engine assembled on-site. He declined to comment on what other Skyactiv technologies, such as chassis components, would be used in the Toyota version.

Toyota is no stranger to using engines from other manufacturers, although it does so rarely. Its Scion FR-S uses an engine from Subaru-builder Fuji Heavy Industries, and its Verso minivan gets a diesel engine from BMW AG. The Lexus LFA sports car, which ended production in 2012, was powered by a V-10 engine from Yamaha Motor Co.

In October, Mazda will open an engine machining shop next to its Salamanca assembly plant. It will be flexible enough to machine any engine in Mazda’s lineup, gasoline or diesel. Supplying some of the engines to Toyota may help it achieve better economies of scale.

Mazda currently mounts only the 2.0-liter Skyactiv gasoline engine in the Mazda3s assembled in Mexico. Mazda3s with the 2.5-liter engine are manufactured in Japan.

A Mazda spokesman declined to give future engine deployment plans for Mexico.

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com. -- Follow Hans on Twitter


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