Report: Toyota Partnering With Mazda On Hybrids

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota is in talks with Mazda about providing its key hybrid technology in a tie-up, the nation's top business daily reported Thursday.

Both automakers said no decision has been made.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's leader in hybrids with the Prius, reiterated Thursday it sees boosting global hybrid sales as important, and will consider any request from automakers to share its green technology.

"But there has been no decision on a policy to offer hybrid systems to Mazda," said Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco.

Mazda Motor Corp., which does not have its own hybrid system, denied the story as "a reporter's speculation."

Its stance of making more ecological gas-engine cars and working on its own green technology is unchanged, it said.

"Nothing has been decided on tie-ups at this point," Mazda said in a statement.

The Nikkei, Japan's top business daily, reported in its Thursday editions that Toyota and Mazda were in the final stages of talking about a possible tie-up in hybrids, under which Toyota would supply Mazda the key components of its hybrid system, including the battery, motor and electronics parts.

That would allow Mazda to start selling hybrids under its own brand as early as 2013, with an annual sales target of 100,000 vehicles, the Nikkei said, without citing sources as is common with Japanese newspapers.

Speculation has been rife that Mazda may want new tie-ups after its longtime alliance partner Ford Motor Co. sold much of its 33.4 percent stake in Mazda last year to gain cash amid troubled times.

Ford still owns about 13.8 percent of Hiroshima-based Mazda, Japan's fourth biggest automaker, and they still maintain some cooperative ties.

Toyota's remodeled Prius, which went on sale in May, has been one bright spot for the world's biggest automaker, which tumbled to its worst ever loss for the fiscal year ended March amid the global auto slump.

Green cars are gaining in popularity around world because of government tax incentives and growing concerns about global warming.