Reports: Toyota and BMW to expand partnership on fuel-efficient vehicles, with Toyota providing hybrid and fuel cell technology to BMW
The Nikkei reported that Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW will expand their partnership, one aspect of which will be Toyota providing hybrid systems and fuel cell technology to BMW. Kyodo News also reported the same, attributing it to “Toyota sources”. The Nikkei report followed a story in German newsmagazine Der Spiegel on the likelihood of an expanded partnership between the two companies.
The Nikkei reported that Toyota President Akio Toyoda and BMW Chief Executive Officer Norbert Reithofer will make an announcement this week. In December 2011, the two companies had agreed to a mid-to-long-term collaboration on next-generation environment-friendly technologies including Li-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) In March 2012, the two signed an agreement on collaborative research in the field of next-generation lithium-ion battery cells and begun the work. (Earlier post.)
The expanded partnership, if it comes to fruition along the reported lines, would mark the first time that Toyota will supply fuel cell technology to a rival automaker. Toyota already provides hybrid technologies to Mazda Motor. Ford and Toyota are collaborating as equal partners on the development of an advanced new rear-wheel drive hybrid system for light trucks and SUVs. (Earlier post.)
Cutting a car’s weight leads to improved environmental performance, including better fuel efficiency. BMW has a track record of developing bodies made from carbon fiber. The automakers will share expertise on developing strong, light materials, including plastic, as well as efficient processing technologies.
As tougher environmental regulations are gradually introduced in Europe, the US and other markets, carmakers face the need to quickly release compliant models. Toyota already has strength in batteries and motor-control technologies for green vehicles, but it hopes to speed up development and enhance the marketability of its cars by tapping BMW’s technologies.
Under the agreement reached last year, BMW will also supply 1.6- and 2-liter diesel engines to Toyota. (Earlier post.)