Badge engineering is alive and well – in the US at least. Toyota have just released information on a new Yaris hatchback for this market and it is a Toyota by name only! In all other markets it is a Mazda 2.
Toyota decided that it would not be building a new Yaris for the US market because it would cost too much to deliver a small city car to a country that loves its big trucks and SUVs. However they clearly felt that they needed to be present in the small car market segment, especially with new Chinese competitors about to launch their products. Originally, Toyota inked a deal to bring the Mazda 2 saloon into the US as a Scion iA and when Toyota dropped this sub-brand, they renamed the car the Yaris iA. This new version simply has a new nose and badging. Interestingly, Toyota did make a Yaris “Liftback” that they sold alongside the Mazda sourced iA, however for this later version, it has been decided to simply utilise an existing model, saving Toyota costs and hopefully improving Mazda’s margins.
The new 2020 Yaris hatchback is an old design – it has been on sale as the Mazda 2 since 2014 in its fourth generation and will be assembled by Mazda in Mexico for export into the US. The styling has had a small make-over to give it the wide grille found on many cars theses days, especially from Japan – it resembles a Mitsubishi!
It isn’t the first time that Toyota has been involved in badge engineering, many years ago they had a tie up with Holden where the Toyota Camry was badged as a Holden Apollo and the Holden Commodore was badged as a Toyota Lexcen. Even Aston Martin used a Toyota for a while. The Aston Martin Cygnet was really a Toyota iQ and like the new Yaris was changed visually with a new nose and badging. Recently, as the media have been gleefully saying, the new Toyota Supra is really a BMW and the GT86 shares a lot of DNA with the Subaru BRZ.
It is a sensible approach if a manufacturer wants to keep their name in a market segment that they know will be low margin and a slow seller. Companies have been sharing designs and components for decades and British Leyland were the masters of badge engineering with many marques simply utilising a design from one of the two main brands being Austin and Morris. Sadly, it isn’t great for the consumer because there is often nothing to really distinguish the vehicles.
The Yaris Hatchback will go on sale as a 2020 model year vehicle.
Image sourced from Toyota.