Mazda to build electric SUV with Chinese partner

Mazda and Changan Automobile are said to be developing a battery-powered EV for sale by 2019.

Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
Mazda grille with logo

Mazda and China's Changan Automobile Group are poised to build electric SUVs together. 

According to Japan's Nikkei Asian Review, the automakers plan to collaborate to develop and build a battery-powered crossover SUV by 2019. The two manufacturers have been in a 50:50 joint-venture partnership since 2012, and their relationship stretches back even longer, into the mid-2000s. 

The Nikkei's report indicates that Changan will supply much of the SUV's electric drivetrain -- including batteries and motors, while Mazda will produce the bodies.

Changan Mazda sign
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Changan Mazda sign

The Changan Mazda joint-venture was established in 2012.

Changan Mazda

The move comes amidst a backdrop where Chinese authorities are pushing to adopt more stringent clean-air regulations. The country is already the world's largest market for electric vehicles, and it's become a global leader in the move to electrification through public policy. 

Near-term 2019 legislation in China is expected to call for the widespread proliferation of "new-energy" vehicles (read: EVs). Because the local government has already long mandated that foreign automakers partner with domestic companies if they want to produce new vehicles for Chinese customers that aren't subject to high taxes, EV developments are expected to follow the same path.

The Changan Mazda joint venture presently offers versions of the Mazda CX-3 and CX-5 small crossovers, as well as sedan and hatchback versions of the Axela (known in North America as the Mazda3).

There's no word yet on whether Mazda or Changan plan to market the unnamed EV outside of China. 

The two automakers did not immediately return a request for comment.