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While Ford sold most of its controlling stake in Mazda last November, the two automakers will remain close partners as the companies work together to develop new automotive systems and technologies -- refuting previous reports that the two companies may be drifting apart. The announcement comes from top executives at both Ford and Mazda, which have been meeting recently to discuss further collaborations within the industry.

A strong relationship benefits both automakers. Ford needs Mazda for its insight into manufacturing, product development and its window into the Japanese auto industry. Mazda still relies on Ford for its powertrains (which Ford will continue to provide). The recently launched Ford Fiesta and Mazda2, built on a shared platform, are another example of how the two automakers can work together. The cars were originally engineered for other markets and not intended for sale in the States. When Ford's product strategy changed while they were under development, the two companies met and solved the critical design elements together, making each viable for the domestic market. Problems solved, the Fiesta and Mazda2 debuted at the LA Auto Show earlier this month and are going on sale next year.

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[Source: The Detroit News]