Ford & Toyota Partner for Gas-Electric Hybrid System

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A memorandum of understanding has been signed between two unlikely partners. Competitors Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have teamed up to develo...

A memorandum of understanding has been signed between two unlikely partners.  Competitors Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have teamed up to develop a new gas-electric hybrid system for use in light trucks and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs).

The system being developed through Toyota and Ford’s partnership is a hybrid for larger, rear-wheel drive vehicles.  The goal is greater fuel efficiency without sacrificing power.  The two automakers will conduct a feasibility study and establish a timetable to implement the new technology in trucks and SUVs within the next decade.

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"The EPA requirements are a big challenge for us automakers," said Toyota research and development chief Takeshi Uchiyamada. "The American society can't do without trucks and SUVs. This collaboration we are forming with Ford is not only about lowering carbon dioxide but making trucks and SUVs more affordable for the customer."

Ford and Toyota plan to develop the system components together as equal partners, but implement their use separately.  The companies plan on standardizing telematic communications and computer components in the system.  This will aid in future additions of information and entertainment products.  Standardization will also cut complexity and improve development time. 

"By working together we will be able to serve our customers with the very best affordable, advanced powertrains, delivering even better fuel economy," Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said in a written statement. "This is the kind of collaborative effort that is required to address the big global challenges of energy independence and environmental sustainability."

The development costs of the system are to be split evenly, and according to Toyota spokesman John Hanson, “This will make us no less fierce of competitors.”

This agreement between Ford and Toyota interestingly enough occurred by happenstance as the result of an informal conversation at an airport lobby between Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally and Toyota President Akio Toyoda.  This just goes to show that the boardroom extends far beyond the office walls. 

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