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Pair fail to agree on design, output site, tech-sharing, opt to proceed under their own steam

Toyota, Ford end hybrid partnership

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. have ended a partnership to jointly develop gas-electric hybrid systems for trucks and sport utility vehicles, the automakers said Tuesday.

The two companies had planned on cooperation to curb massive development costs. But they are believed to have failed to reach an agreement on basic designing of a hybrid system as well as other details, such as production sites and the scope of technological disclosure.

Ford, the second-largest U.S. carmaker, has developed a hybrid system for cars that can be converted for use in pickups and SUVs, reducing the need for joint efforts with Toyota.

The two plan to proceed on their own in developing hybrid vehicle systems but they are continuing to cooperate in information technology, including software development for cars.

“We know what it takes to build world-class hybrids, and we now will build and leverage that expertise in-house,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s chief of global product development. “By continuing to develop a rear-wheel-drive hybrid system on our own, we can extend our advanced hybrid technologies to new vehicle segments and deliver even better fuel economy across our lineup.”

Ford said it is hiring more than 200 new electrification engineers and expanding its research facilities to speed development.

Separately, Toyota said that “Toyota and Ford continue to evaluate the feasibility of working together on next-generation standards for telematics and will consider other areas for future collaboration as well.”

The Japanese automaker said its commitment to hybrid technology is “unwavering” and that it remains on track to offer 18 new or redesigned hybrid models globally by the end of 2015.

Toyota has already sold more than 2 million hybrid vehicles in the United States — accounting for 70 percent of the nation’s hybrid sales — and over 5 million hybrids worldwide. It estimates those vehicles have saved more than 11.3 billion liters of gasoline.

Ford said it has invested $355 million (¥35.4 billion) within the past year to design, engineer and manufacture key components for its electric vehicles. It plans to invest another $50 million to double its battery testing capabilities and speed electric vehicle development by as much as 25 percent.

Ford said second-quarter hybrid sales soared a whopping 517 percent from the first quarter of 2012 to a record 24,217 vehicles. Its share of the U.S. electrified market grew 12 points to nearly 16 percent, the company said.