AP. Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe said Monday that a partnership with GM on fuel-cell vehicles is in its final stages, and that it was just a matter of time before the final details were hammered out.
GM and Toyota have areas of long-standing cooperation. In 1984, they together established the NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc.) plant in California. Currently, the NUMMI plant makes, among other vehicles, the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Tacoma and Pontiac Vibe. It also produces a right-hand drive crossover, the Voltz, exported to Japan.
The cooperation on fuel cells makes a great deal of sense for Toyota, for a number of reasons.
It reduces the cost and the financial risk of the long-term development of fuel cell technology—an R&D process in which both automakers are already participating.
It establishes an important additional tie between GM and Toyota—on a technology that is clearly strategic for GM, reducing the chances of some sort of anti-Toyota backlash from policymakers if GM and Ford sales continue to falter.
It leaves Toyota unencumbered to compete aggressively using its hybrids—an area in which it is trouncing everyone else.
It’s hard to see a downside from Toyota’s point of view.
Toyota plans to capture 15% percent of the world’s market following 2010. Watanabe sees increasing hybrid production as key to expanding those global sales.
Toyota is considering making a hybrid pickup truck, and the ideal would be an entire lineup of models in hybrids, he said.