Toyota, Ford Call It Quits; Ford Hybrid Truck ‘Still On Track’
The two automakers first announced the collaboration in August 2011 and said they would have a co-developed hybrid system ready for use in rear-wheel-drive light trucks arriving later this decade.
On Tuesday, however, the companies said they had completed their feasibility study and decided to travel the hybrid-truck road alone. Toyota and Ford say they’ll continue to evaluate the feasibility of working together on next-generation standards for telematics and will consider other areas for future collaboration.
Ford, however, says it is on track to have its own hybrid system ready later this decade on rear-wheel-drive Ford pickups and SUVs. The new hybrid system will be based on an all-new architecture, the company says.
While Toyota didn’t give any specifics about its hybrid truck plans, the company says its “commitment to hybrid technology is unwavering” and it plans to offer 18 new or redesigned hybrid models globally by the end of 2015.
Toyota has sold more than 2 million Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles in the US, representing 70 percent of the US auto industry’s total hybrid sales, and more than 5 million hybrids worldwide.
Toyota estimates that its global fleet of nearly 20 hybrid vehicles (12 available in the US) has resulted in approximately 34 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions than those emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles, and have saved their owners more than 3 billion gallons of gasoline.
Meanwhile, Ford says it’s hiring more than 200 new electrification engineers and expanding its research facilities to speed development of hybrid and electrified vehicles. This includes the design and engineering of transmissions, batteries and control systems, along with work on the rear-wheel-drive hybrid system.
Within the last year, Ford says it has invested more than $355 million to design, engineer and manufacture key components for its electrified vehicle lineup.
An additional $50 million investment in research and development facilities will double Ford’s electrification battery-testing capabilities, helping to speed electrified vehicle development by as much as 25 percent, the company says.
The Toyota-Ford breakup is the latest in a string of broken partnerships between automaker to share technologies like alternative fuels and electric vehicles.
Last summer, BMW ended talks with General Motors about cooperating on fuel cells for vehicles, and expanded its partnership with Toyota, which now includes hybrid powertrains and lightweight design. The German luxury automaker had been in talks with both companies since December.
Around the same time, BMW ended its partnership with PSA Peugeot Citroen. The breakup happened eight months after the two car companies agreed to collaborate on fuel-efficient vehicles.
In July 2012, Lux Research analyst Andrew Soare told Environmental Leader that partnerships are “key” to automaker success and likened the on-again, off-again agreements to dating.
“Companies are looking for partners to work with, but they’re going to break up with partners, find new partners,” Soare said. “It looks polygamist, but in reality they’re looking for the perfect partner to marry.”
This may explain a recent spat of new partnerships, including General Motors and Honda, which, earlier this month partnered to develop fuel-cell vehicles and infrastructure. Additionally, Ford, Nissan and Daimler signed an agreement earlier this year to develop affordable fuel cell electric vehicles that the automakers hope to have on the road by 2017.
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