According to the Nikkei, the new agreement would see Toyota share and co-develop its fuel cell technology (below), currently used in the Mirai, with Mazda. In return, Mazda will reportedly supply Toyota with SkyActiv engines, as well as share some of its related technologies.
As the Nikkei points out, ever tighter emissions standards and a need to develop, or at least investigate, new drivetrain types are forcing automakers to collaborate and compete with each other simultaneously.
At present Toyota and BMW are working together on fuel cell and other technologies, while Ford, Nissan and Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) are also banding together to share costs related to fuel cell development. Honda and General Motors also have agreements in place to co-develop fuel cell technology.
According to an unnamed Toyota executive who spoke to the Nikkei, "As we have focused our manpower on the development of hybrids, it's hard for us to pour resources into engines as well".
Toyota and Mazda currently have a number of agreements in place already. Toyota supplies hybrid drivetrain components, which Mazda uses in its 3 hybrid sedan (above) that's currently only sold in Japan. Mazda, in turn, is supplying Toyota with its Mexico-built 2 sedan that the latter is marketing in the US as the Scion iA (below).
Mazda also has partnerships with other car makers. Most notably, the upcoming Fiat 124 Spyder will be based on the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 platform and will be built by Mazda in Hiroshima. Reports indicate, though, that the 124 will be powered by a Fiat-supplied turbo motor.