This week at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show the two auto giants signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) concerning a mid-to-long-term collaboration on next-generation environment-friendly technologies.
They will focus mainly on development of lithium-ion battery technology for application in both hybrid and pure electric vehicles. However, they have also agreed to identify and discuss other possible collaborative projects.
One of these is the supply of BMW’s advanced diesel engines to Toyota. The BMW engines, which displace either 1.6 or 2.0 liters, will start to appear in Toyota’s European fleet in 2014. Through this agreement, Toyota plans to expand its European lineup and sales of fuel-efficient, low CO2-emission diesel-powered vehicles.
Hybrids will still have a major presence but an appreciating yen and a lack of popularity in Europe is making the sale of hybrid vehicles a tough business. Toyota can justify making less on its hybrids if it can boost profitability of conventional vehicles, and to achieve this in Europe it must have a strong lineup of diesel powered vehicles.
BMW, on the other hand, would benefit from Toyota’s well-sorted hybrid technology for its own next-generation hybrid vehicles.
Of course, with the signing of today’s agreement, the groundwork has now been laid for the development of an ultra-frugal diesel-electric hybrid.
What’s interesting is that both BMW and Toyota have similar agreements with other parties, most of which are also competing automakers.
Toyota is working with Ford, but their agreement specifically covers the development of hybrid trucks and SUVs. BMW has also partnered with PSA Peugeot Citroen Group to develop hybrid vehicles, but this partnership covers front-wheel drive hybrid technology for subcompacts, and the automaker already supplies diesel engines to several other firms one of which will soon be Fisker Automotive.
Want to see what else is happening at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show? You’ll find our complete coverage here.