One automaker is the undisputed front-runner in making hybrid cars, the other sells more pickup trucks than anyone else. Today, Ford and Toyota announced they’ll take their respective talents and collaborate: they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding aligning themselves together to work on a rear-wheel drive hybrid powertrain that would be suitable for light trucks and sport utility vehicles.
The move comes on the heels of recent changes to Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which now say that automakers will need to reach a fleet average of 54.5 mpg by model year 2025. Both automakers have made strides with smaller passenger cars, but with larger trucks and SUVs accounting for 43 percent of Toyota sales and 67 percent of Ford sales, both companies will need to work on their bigger offerings to raise their average economies.
The announcement, which was made at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan Research and Innovation Center, says that the two companies will work to develop new hybrid technology that can be added to the companies’ respective light trucks to score better fuel economy and lower cost of ownership.
Neither company would talk specifics on which models would be electrified, but as the technology is rear-wheel drive, we’d guess that it could go into trucks like the Ford F-150 and Toyota Tacoma, and Tundra, as well as SUVs like the Ford Expedition and Toyota 4Runner. The two companies will not develop a common platform, however, so no overlapping models will be produced.
The technology will likely be different from the hybrid technology we’re used to seeing from either company. Since trucks have much higher payloads and capabilities than cars, don’t expect to see the same sort of continuously variable transmission setup as currently found in both Toyota and Ford’s hybrids. Instead, Toyota and Ford officials say they’ll work on an electric powertrain in the same vein as but more powerful than the two-mode hybrid system developed by General Motors, BMW, and then DaimlerChrysler found in trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid. Also, both Ford group vice president for global product development Derrick Kuzak and Toyota executive vice president Takeshi Uchiyamada have stated that the new system will definitely be an electric-based system, not a hydraulic one.
Ford says that with this MoU, the two companies will begin working jointly on technology, starting first with a feasibility study. If the study succeeds and actual development begins, look to see something in showrooms within the decade.