Mazda vows to stay independent despite deeper ties with Toyota


DETROIT (Reuters) - Japan's Mazda Motor Corp on Wednesday said that while it is deepening its development and production partnership with Toyota Motor Corp, the small automaker would remain a company independent from its much bigger rival.

Mazda and Toyota last week said they will build a $1.6 billion joint assembly plant in Alabama, and the two companies are working together to develop electric cars, automated driving systems and connected vehicles.

"Despite this technology partnership, Mazda intends to remain an independent company," Masahiro Moro, president and CEO of Mazda's North American operations, said at an auto industry conference in Detroit.

"We are driven to make cars and SUVs our way, focusing on making driving better."

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu and Nick CareyEditing by Chizu Nomiyama)