Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have decided to work together on a gas-electric hybrid engine to power pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.
The companies signed a deal Monday to share development costs, saying they want to make the technology more affordable for customers and bring it to market faster.
Both companies now sell hybrid cars, but trucks need a different system with power to tow and haul heavy loads.
Hybrid trucks would help automakers meet stricter government fuel economy and pollution standards in the U.S. and other countries. In the U.S., the fleet of new cars and trucks will have to average 56.5 miles per gallon by 2025, although trucks will have lower mileage targets.
It will take a year for the companies to figure out who will do what research, Ford product development chief Derrick Kuzak said. He said it would be at least two or three years after that before a system can be developed. The companies aren't sure yet what kind of gas mileage it will get.
The system would power some of Ford's F-Series pickup trucks, the top-selling vehicle in the U.S., and it would run the Tundra, Toyota's full-sized pickup truck. It also would be used in rear-wheel-drive sport utility vehicles, the companies said.
"Trucks and SUVs are indispensable for the U.S. society," said Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota's executive vice president for research and development.
Ford and Toyota also said they will work together to develop standards for the way electronic devices such as smartphones link to cars and trucks.
Ford said it's the first time it has worked with Toyota on any project.
"There are no future plans beyond that point," Kuzak said. He said the companies would save money on developing the system but he did not know how much. It's important, he said, to share costs to make the system affordable to customers.
Discussions between the two companies began in April.
It's not the first hybrid system for pickup trucks and SUVs. General Motors Co., Chrysler and BMW AG collaborated on a system unveiled several years ago. The system powers some GM pickups and SUVs but has not sold well.
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