Mercedes or Mazda? Alliances Change the Face of Auto Industry

Image: 2016 Toyota Scion iA

When the new iA comes to Scion showrooms later this year, it will mark the first time Toyota’s youth-oriented brand has offered a sedan.

To bring it to market, Scion sought some help, largely repurposing a 4-door model developed by smaller Japanese automaker Mazda. Toyota also will use the subcompact Mazda2 as the starting point for the next version of its small Yaris model – which will be assembled at a new Mazda plant in Mexico.

Confused? You’re not alone. It takes more than just a scorecard to keep up with the convoluted alliances in today’s increasingly competitive auto industry. Hoping to add more models to their line-ups while driving down costs, traditional competitors are finding advantages to working together.

“No matter what the price point of a vehicle today you have to order an extraordinarily broad suite of infotainment and safety features. And you have to come up with new powertrains and lightweight materials to meet new fuel economy regulations,” explains analyst Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting. “That’s expensive and you have to find a partner, especially if you’re working on an inexpensive vehicle.”


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