The heads of both automakers signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at long-term strategic collaboration in four main fields.
They include the joint development of a fuel cell system, collaboration on powertrain electrification, joint research and development on lightweight technologies, and joint development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle.
No other details were revealed at the announcement but in a statement Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda hinted at the potential of the alliance.
“Toyota is strong in environment-friendly hybrids and fuel cells. On the other hand, I believe BMW’s strength is in developing sports cars. I am excited to think of the cars that will result from this relationship,” he said.
BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer added, “We aim to further strengthen our competitive position in sustainable future technologies. We signed an MoU to this effect today. Toyota and the BMW Group share the same strategic vision of sustainable individual future mobility.”
The new agreement builds on previous deals that include a binding agreement on collaborative research in the field of next-generation lithium-ion battery cells. In addition, BMW and Toyota entered into a contract under which BMW will supply diesel engines for use in Toyota vehicles in Europe from 2014 onwards.
Furthermore, the decision of the two automakers to work more closely on the development of fuel cell technology means that BMW’s previous alliance with General Motors in this field has come to an end. Toyota has promised to launch its first mainstream fuel cell vehicle in 2015 but it’s not clear what plans BMW has. The most likely outcome will see BMW install a fuel cell as a range-extender in its upcoming i electric cars.
As for the joint development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle, the plans of both automakers remain unclear. It’s been reported that Toyota is keen to launch a spiritual successor to its Supra sports car but with a mid-engine layout, hybrid drivetrain and all-wheel drive configuration. BMW, meanwhile, has long been reported to be considering a new entry-level sports car, which some believe will be called a Z2. However, it hasn’t been revealed whether both automakers will launch a new sports car, like Toyota did with Subaru and their respective GT 86/FR-S and BRZ sports cars, or if only one company will.