Ford once owned a small stake in Mazda, but the companies parted ways in 2010, at which time they established themselves as independent from one another. In addition to Mazda, Ford Motor Company owns a portion of Lincoln Motors. This relationship remains, but Ford removed its stake in Mazda, which started at 7 percent in 1979, when the companies formed a partnership, and rose to just over 33 percent by the late 1990s.
During its tenure with Mazda, Ford collaborated with the fellow automobile company in several areas, including engineering, design and development. Ford entered the partnership just before 1980 as a means to help Mazda through financial difficulties. The companies jointly produced several vehicles sharing the same platform and other components.
Among their first joint productions were the line of Mazda B-Series pickup trucks and several smaller cars. Mazda installed its signature platform on several of Ford's most popular vehicles, including the Laser and Escort. Mazda also provided inspiration for the Ford Explorer, which ultimately became a popular and best-selling SUV. The idea for the Explorer came from Mazda's less successful vehicle, the Mazda Navajo, which was produced only between 1991 and 1994.
Today, both car companies remain in business, and conduct domestic and international sales. They exist functionally as separate entities, although Ford has a very small percentage of stock in Mazda.