Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. will bring their research and development forces together to accelerate the creation of a hybrid vehicle system for trucks and SUVs.
The partnership is also likely to help the companies meet U.S. fuel economy standards quicker than operating alone.
Ford and Toyota said they’ve been working individually on rear-wheel-drive hybrid systems, but the two companies started looking at combining their efforts earlier this tear after initial discussions between Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Toyota President Akio Toyoda in an airport lobby.
“The point of collaborating is to deliver better technology that is more affordable and accessible for our customers,” said Nancy Gioia, Ford’s global director of electrification. “Both Ford and Toyota have extensive HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) knowledge and capabilities. By collaborating together, we bring the expertise together along with shared investment and scale to develop a customer focused system at the best possible costs.”.
This isn’t the first time the two companies were involved in hybrids together. In 2004, when Ford was making its first foray into hybrids, it licensed some of Toyota’s patents on gasoline-electric hybrid engine systems.
The new partnership still has some kinks to work out, namely who is doing what research, and a formal agreement is planned for next year. The companies expect a hybrid system developed by the partnership to be in vehicles later in the late 2010s.
Bringing together duplicative efforts will likely save costs for both companies while also getting new technology into vehicles quicker than through independent research programs.
While the companies are jointly developing the system, which will be designed to handle larger vehicles and bigger loads than typical hybrid systems for passenger cars, each company will integrate the system into their vehicles separately, maintaining some differences in their final offerings.
Adding hybrid options to pick-ups and SUVs will also help the companies meet the U.S.’s increased fuel efficiency standards, which call for an average of 35.5 miles per gallon for model year 2012-2016 passenger cars and lights trucks, and 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Not only are the fuel economy standards going up, but they’re also being more prominently displayed on new fuel economy stickers required on vehicles.
Toyota’s been well-established in the hybrid game, selling around 3.3 million hybrid vehicles since launching the Prius in 1997. Ford, meanwhile, sells about 35,000 electric, hybrid or plug-in vehicles a year. The company is making electric vehicles a key part of its future, with plans to triple its electric vehicle capacity by 2013 and its first dedicated model for hybrids and plug-ins coming out in 2012.
Ford and Toyota will also jointly work on standards and technologies for telematics systems, which can relay a wide variety of information on vehicle performance and part status in real-time, through Internet-based services.
As with the companies’ work on a hybrid system, they will develop the technologies together, but have separate final products and features.
In June, both companies announced steps forward in their work around telematics, with Ford using software from Telogis to improve its Crew Chief service that allows companies to track the location and performance of vehicles in their fleets. Around that same time, Toyota and Microsoft announced a joint investment to develop telematics systems specifically for electric and plug-in vehicles.
Published August 23, 2011
Published on Green Business News – www.greenbiz.com