Toyota Motor Corp. will provide Nissan Motor Co. with technology aimed at developing eco-friendly hybrid cars over a period of more than 10 years, the automakers said Monday.
The rivals’ first alliance is aimed at slashing the huge costs involved in developing environmentally friendly hybrid cars, which emit less carbon dioxide and cleaner exhaust, the vice presidents of the two manufacturers told a news conference.
Nissan will install Toyota’s hybrid system, which features a gasoline engine as well as electric motors, in Nissan vehicles that will be sold in the United States from 2006, they said. Nissan expects to sell 100,000 vehicles of this kind over a period of five years.
A hybrid system comprises electric motors and another internal-combustion engine such as gasoline or diesel engine or other fuel batteries.
The agreement allows the two companies to exchange information on their own hybrid systems and jointly develop hybrid systems that can slash vehicles’ carbon dioxide emissions.
“We have long been competing with Nissan,” said Akihiko Saito, an executive vice president at Toyota.
“(But) it is important for us to spread (our) environmental technology as long as (the cooperation) is profitable.”
Under the basic agreement, Toyota will develop components such as transaxles and inverters for the hybrid engine system, which will be the latest version of that installed in Toyota’s Prius model, the first globally marketed hybrid car.
Nissan will innovate its own engine and application of the hybrid system for its vehicles.
With the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions having become a major issue for carmakers across the globe, Toyota launched the Prius in 1997 and installed the system in the Estima minivan and the Crown luxury sedan in 2001.
Total sales of Toyota’s hybrid vehicles currently stand at around 120,000 units.
As the largest hybrid car maker in the world, Toyota is seeking to sell 300,000 hybrid cars annually by 2005.
Although Saito said Toyota’s hybrid car operations are profitable, the forging of partnerships with rival firms is a necessary maneuver to reduce the costs involved in producing and developing advanced environmental technology and thus survive global competition.
Nissan marketed 100 units of its first own hybrid model, the Tino Hybrid wagon, in 2000.
Nobuo Okubo, executive vice president of the firm, said Nissan had decided that operating a profitable hybrid car business was difficult.
The company has lagged behind Toyota in the development of hybrid systems, partly because it has prioritized management rehabilitation over the past few years.
The two automakers launched negotiations over a possible tieup about a year ago, Okubo said.
Toyota can form similar partnerships with other companies, Saito said.
The firms have agreed that Renault SA of France, which raised its stake in Nissan to 44.4 percent this year, may also take part in the accord if it so desires.
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