January 23, 2018 7:16 pm JST

Mazda Motor and Changan Auto join hands on electric vehicles

SUV planned for 2019 under alliance forged to meet Chinese regulations

MASAHISA YUZAWA, Nikkei staff writer

In order to participate in China's EV market and comply with planned new regulations, Mazda has formed an alliance with local player Changan Auto. © Getty Images

TOKYO -- Japan's Mazda Motor is to jointly develop a new electric vehicle with its Chinese partner Changan Automobile Group. The two companies aim to introduce the model in China by 2019.

Mazda's move coincides with those of its Japanese peers, Honda Motor, Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor, which are set to successively release electric sports utility vehicles popular among Chinese consumers.

Beijing is set to adopt new clean-air regulations which are expected to require automakers to use Chinese-made batteries and components in their EVs. In order to participate in the world's largest EV market, Japanese automakers, including Mazda, are forging new alliances with local players to comply with the new regulations.

To develop their new EV, which is expected to be a small SUV, Mazda will procure motors, batteries and other key parts mainly from Changan. Mazda will be responsible for auto bodies, among other things, with the vehicles being produced at Changan Mazda, a 50:50 joint venture between the two companies.

China is planning to introduce new environmental regulations in 2019 which will require automakers to produce new energy vehicles, such as EVs, at set portions of sales. Although details have yet to be announced, the new regulations are highly likely to make it mandatory for automakers to use Chinese-made batteries and other core parts.

Chinese companies, including Contemporary Amperex Technology, a leading producer of lithium-ion batteries for EVs, are dominant manufacturers of auto batteries. Japanese carmakers will need to procure a considerable amount of batteries from them in order to remain competitive in the evolving electric car segment.

Nikkei staff writers Masamichi Hoshi in Tokyo and Takeru Goto in Hiroshima contributed to this story.

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