Ford, Toyota Pooling Research for Hybrid RWD Technology

Automakers aim to economize development of light truck, SUV powertrains

Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are pooling their efforts to develop a rear-wheel drive, hybrid light-truck and SUV platform, according to a memorandum of understanding the two automakers announced. Each will have an equal stake in the effort, and a formal agreement is expected in 2012.

The value of their investments was not announced.

"This is the kind of collaborative effort that is required to address the big global challenges of energy independence and environmental sustainability," according to Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally. The companies are presumed to be responding to emerging Corporate Average Fuel Economy U.S. fuel-economy standards, which the U.S. EPA aims to use to lower the carbon emissions of trucks and SUVs.

The MOU calls for the two companies to contribute the best of their separate hybrid powertrain and components technologies and insights. The new hybrid RWD will have significant common technology and components, but Toyota and Ford will integrate it into their own vehicles later this decade. Also, each one will determine the calibration and performance characteristics of their new models.

Each automaker has been researching RWD hybrid systems, but in their announcement Ford and Toyota claimed that working together will bring the resulting hybrid technology to the market sooner, and more cost-effectively, than their independent efforts could do.

"This agreement brings together the capability of two global leaders in hybrid vehicles and hybrid technology to develop a better solution more quickly and affordably for our customers," stated Ford’s Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development.

The two automakers also agreed to work together to improve their existing in-car information systems, called “telematics”, to improve the Internet-based services and information available to drivers.

Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota executive vice president, Research & Development, said: "We expect to create exciting technologies that benefit society with Ford, and we can do so through the experience the two companies have in hybrid technology."

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