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Fleet Briefing: BMW-Toyota MOU, BP Charging Stations, Tokyo Show

BMW and Toyota have signed a memorandum of understanding for collaborative research on next-generation lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.

The two companies have also agreed to identify and discuss other possible collaborative projects. And Toyota Motor Europe has entered into a contract under which BMW will supply 1.6 liter and 2.0 liter diesel engines to TME starting in 2014.

Through the agreement, Toyota says it will expand its European lineup and sales of fuel-efficient, low-CO2 diesel-powered vehicles.

This week Toyota also began taking orders for the plug-in version of its Prius hybrid, for delivery to Japanese customers in January. Pricing starts at 3.2 million yen ($41,000), and is reduced by green vehicle incentives, the Washington Post said.

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan showed the Pivo 3, a car that can find parking spaces and drive itself. Honda showed concept cars including the AC-X plug-in hybrid (pictured) and EV-STER electric roadster convertible, Christian Science Monitor reported.

Honda also hinted that it is planning a new version of the Accord hybrid. The previous model was discontinued in the U.S. as a result of poor sales – largely because it didn’t cut fuel costs by very much, USA Today said.

Honda also outlined plans for next-generation technologies that it is collectively calling Earth Dreams Technology. These measures include initiatives to improve gas and diesel efficiency, hybrid systems and electric powertrains. The company said it is aiming to achieve top-of-industry fuel efficiency in every category in the next three years, Green Car Congress reported.

And in other Honda news, the 2012 Civic Natural Gas has been named the 2012 Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal.

At the Tokyo show, Volkswagen has been showcasing the Cross Coupé all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid vehicle. The company says the vehicle is a crossover between a four-door coupé and a compact SUV, Green Car Congress reported.

ABB has started installing fast-charging systems for electric vehicles at BP service stations in the Netherlands as part of a nationwide trial. The stations can recharge an EV battery in as little as 15 to 30 minutes

Finally, Consumer Watchdog has asked the EPA (pdf) to investigate Hyundai’s high mileage claims for its Elantra model (29/40 MPG city/highway, 33 MPG average). The advocacy group said an unusual number of consumers have complained that the car’s real-world MPG averages in the mid-20s.

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