Following a signing between Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda for entering into a business and capital alliance last August, Mazda North America has refuted any speculation of the two companies merging, according to The Detroit Bureau.

Hiroshima-based Mazda plans to remain an independent manufacturer for the forseeable future, said president and CEO of Mazda North America operations Masahiro Moro at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. The partnership with Toyota will provide Mazda with greater production capabilities, said Moro in regards to the collaboration for a US$1.6 billion (about RM6.2 billion) factory in Alabama.

“Additionally, our two companies will jointly work on electric vehicles and vehicle systems. However, despite the technology partnership, Mazda intends to remain an independent company. We are driven to make cars and SUVs our way, focusing on making driving better,” the Mazda executive added.

While electric vehicles and fuel cells are deemed important, Moro belives more efficiency can be squeezed from its internal combustion engines in the coming decade. Despite not having an electric vehicle (EV) or hybrid in its United States model line-up, Mazda has been named the most fuel-efficient brand five years in a row by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Moro noted.

“This is pure ICE engineering and this is the Mazda way. It is only going to get better as we (incorporate) these other technologies in the coming years,” said Moro in his presentation.

“We believe in the freedom provided by the personal car. Before any company goes to the time, effort and expense of adding electrification, we are convinced that our industry must maximise the ICE (internal combustion engine),” Moro said. Part of the continued thrust with the development of the internal combustion engine is the SkyActiv-X compression ignition petrol engine, which has been slated for 2019.

“With the breakthroughs in our SkyActiv-X engine, Mazda will deliver a car to market in 2019 with this technology. We expect to see fuel savings of another 20% to 30% with SkyActiv-X over our already industry-leading engines,” Moro said. The compression ignition engine is part of Mazda’s larger vision for the future, which will also incorporate the human-centred Mazda Co-Pilot Concept later on.