Ford and Toyota have reached a preliminary agreement to jointly develop hybrid propulsion systems for rear-wheel-drive pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
The expected collaboration is an apparent response to expected tougher fuel-efficiency regulations that would require the vehicles to increase average fuel economy 3.5 percent a year through 2021 and then by 5 percent for the next four years.
It also is an acknowledgement that many buyers will continue to want the practicality and versatility of large vehicles that cannot be equalled in standard sedans and high-mileage compacts and subcompacts.
Since the introduction of the first Prius in 1997, Toyota has become the acknowledged world leader in the development of hybrid vehicles. To date, it has sold 3.34 million hybrids.
Ford has developed a growing market for its hybrid Ford Fusion sedan and Ford Escape crossover vehicle.
Ford and Toyota have been working independently to develop rear-wheel-drive hybrid systems for trucks and SUVs. By sharing their hybrid powertrain technology they expect to jointly create a system that will be produced later this decade.
It will be based on an all-new architecture that will support the heavier trucks and SUVs. While the hybrid system will be jointly developed, each company will independently integrate it into its own vehicles.
Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of global product development, said “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 . . . ”
Toyota President Akio Toyoda added that “Not only is this tie-up clearly one aimed at making automobiles ever better, it should also become an important building block for future mobility in the U.S.”
As part of the agreement, the two automotive giants will also work together to improve the navigation, information and entertainment systems in their vehicles.