February 26, 2021

Ford and Toyota to Work Together on Hybrid Trucks

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Company and Toyota Motor said Monday that they would jointly develop a gas-electric hybrid fuel system for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles aimed at keeping larger models affordable as the automakers work to meet stricter fuel-economy standards.

The companies said they did not plan to collaborate on developing the vehicles themselves, instead using the hybrid system they develop to power separate models under the Ford and Toyota brands. The resulting hybrid trucks would go on sale later this decade, they said, without providing a more specific timeframe.

“Clearly Ford and Toyota will remain competitors,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for research and development. “By working together, we will be able to offer our customers more affordable technology sooner.”

In addition, Ford and Toyota said they intended to collaboratively develop new technology for information and entertainment systems in vehicles, with the goal of offering more Internet-based services and useful data to drivers. The companies already are among the industry’s leaders in this area, known as telematics, and their partnership could give them enough leverage to essentially dictate the standards that other automakers use to wirelessly connect mobile phones and other devices to vehicles.

The partnership sprang from informal talks between the chief executives of the two companies, Alan R. Mulally at Ford and Akio Toyoda at Toyota, that began when the two accidentally crossed paths at an airport, according to Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s executive vice president for research and development. Teams led by Mr. Kuzak and Mr. Uchiyamada began working together in April.

They said many specifics of the deal had yet to be determined. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding Monday and expect to enter into a formal agreement next year, after completing a feasibility study that will help them lay out more detailed plans.

Ford makes the top-selling truck in the United States, the F-150, and Toyota is the leading producer of hybrid vehicles, having sold 3.3 million since introducing the popular Prius car in 1997. Neither company sells a hybrid truck, and other automakers have had little success doing so.

But proposed fuel-economy standards, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency last month, that would require automakers to build dramatically more fuel-efficient vehicles in the years ahead are forcing them to explore more advanced technology. By collaborating, Ford and Toyota hope to reduce the costs and development time of such work and keep hybrid trucks from becoming too expensive or lacking in performance.

“The E.P.A. fuel standards are a big challenge for us automakers,” Mr. Uchiyamada said through a translator. “Trucks and S.U.V.’s are vehicles that the American society cannot do without. This collaboration we are forming with Ford is not only about lowering carbon dioxide but making light-duty trucks and S.U.V.’s more affordable.”

The hybrid system they plan to develop would be for rear-wheel-drive vehicles. The Toyota Prius and Ford’s hybrids, including the Fusion sedan and Escape small sport utility vehicle, are front-wheel drive.

Ford and Toyota have not worked together on product development efforts until now, though such partnerships are increasingly common in the industry. Ford is involved in joint development efforts on some transmissions with General Motors and on diesel powertrains in Europe with PSA Peugeot Citroën.

“This is the kind of collaborative effort that is required to address the big global challenges of energy independence and environmental sustainability,” Mr. Mulally said in a statement.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/business/ford-and-toyota-to-work-together-on-hybrid-trucks.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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