Toyota and BMW have made the next step in their partnership official today after the two automakers inked an agreement to research future lithium-ion battery cells.
We learned about the collaboration last December when the two companies announced that BMW would provide diesel engines to Toyota. Starting in 2014, Toyota will use BMW’s 1.6- and 2.0-liter diesel engines in a number of its Europe-market vehicles. Diesels remain popular in Europe and the partnership will continue to allow Toyota a way to offer low-emissions and fuel-efficient diesel options to its customers.
Now, the two companies will move forward on producing next-generation lithium-ion batteries that should make their way into future hybrid and all-electric vehicles. Their goal is to produce lighter, higher-performance batteries by using new materials for cathodes, anodes, and electrolytes.
It was previously rumored that Toyota and BMW would collaborate on developing hybrid vehicles, but both automakers said it was purely speculation. A few years ago, BMW and Peugeot-Citroen signed a deal to develop hybrid vehicles together, but a BMW spokesman has confirmed that the partnership hasn’t been affected by BMW’s involvement with Toyota. Likewise, BMW isn’t the only company Toyota is partnering with for battery technology. Last summer Toyota turned to Tesla to provide batteries for the all-electric RAV4, which is set to start production later this year at the NUMMI auto plant in Fremont, California. In exchange, Toyota is providing Tesla some tips on mass production techniques.