Ford and Toyota have announced that they entered an equal partnership to develop a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain for rear-wheel-drive light trucks and SUVs. While I'm not a big fan of these types of vehicles if they are bought by people who will at most carry some groceries, they are needed by some and there might as well be more fuel-efficient options available.
A lot of work on this new hybrid drivetrain has already been done separately by both companies, so they're not starting from nothing. The goal seems to be to accelerate development and save money by pooling R&D; resources and increasing benefits from economies of scale.
Hopefully they're designing it form the start to use the most advanced types of batteries (lithium-ion, li-polymer, etc) and have plug-in capabilities so that the gas engine turns on as little as possible.
Takeshi Uchiyamada, the Executive Vice President of Toyota, had this to say:
Our collaboration with Ford is a move to make hybrid technology more widely available in sport-utility vehicles and in trucks. Those kinds of models are indispensable to American customers. And providing them with our hybrid technology will help conserve energy and reduce output of greenhouse gas here in the United States. That was our thinking in considering the collaboration.
Ford was also a pioneer in developing hybrid technology. And it is a traditional leader in sport-utility vehicles and in trucks. So we are extremely honored to be undertaking preparations for joint work with Ford.
There's no exact timeline for the release of this new drivetrain, except "later this decade", which probably means after 2015. Let's hope that by then a lot more fully electric vehicles will be available (by then their range will be bigger, and the price of battery packs should be lower)...
Trivia: Since 1997, Toyota has sold 3.3 million hybrids. It took them until 2008 to sell their first million, but only about 3 years to sell two more...
Via Toyota & Ford
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