Toyota and BMW join in developing greener vehicles

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1997 Prius

Toyota pioneered hybrid technology with the introduction of the Prius 14 years ago. Image: Limosine/Flicker/CC BY

Two of the world’s largest automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW AG, will be collaborating on the development of innovative, environmentally friendly technologies. The announcement was made at a Tokyo press conference on Dec. 1.

Tougher emission standards

The deal to share costs and technology comes in an effort to meet tougher emissions standards mandated in various regions around the world. The joint effort will concentrate on various kinds of research, including working to improve the lithium-ion battery, which gives life to most electric vehicles.

Toyota Motor Europe President and CEO Didier Leroy said:

“Fundamentally we are both engineering companies, so in many aspects we have found we speak the same language. It is interesting to see what can be achieved when Japanese engineering meets European engineering and when the cooperation really works.”

Individual expertise

Each company is bringing its own expertise to the collaboration. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board at BMW, said:

“Toyota is the leading provider of environment-friendly series technology in the volume segment, and the BMW Group is the most innovative and sustainable manufacturer of premium automobiles.”

Toyota comes to the table with a wealth of knowledge concerning hybrid vehicles. The Japanese automaker pioneered the technology with the introduction of the Prius 14 years ago. BMW, meanwhile, excels in the diesel segment. It has agreed, as part of the deal, to supply 1.6 and 2.0 liter diesel engines to Toyota’s European operations, starting in 2014.

Diesel key in Europe

Toyota announced in 2009 that it would concentrate its European operations on developing hybrids rather than diesel vehicles in an effort to not get “lost in the crowd.” However, since then Toyota sales have been down partially because of lack of diesel choices. Diesel cars make up about 55 percent of sales in Europe.

BMW hybrid

BMW has already made a stab at developing hybrids, and the new collaboration should speed up that effort. The company introduced the ActiveHybrid 5 at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.

The companies each expressed hope for a fruitful collaboration. BMW’s Reithofer is excited about the development of greener automotive technology and the expansion of its diesel engine sales. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said he was especially enthusiastic about the exchange of expertise.

Market share rises

After the announcement Thursday, Toyota’s share rose 2.3 percent in the Nikkei Stock Average.


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