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Honda Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are laying the groundwork for a deeper partnership in North America to jointly develop gasoline engines and crossover SUVs, seeking to cut costs as the auto industry moves toward electric vehicles.

The two automakers signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding to establish a North American automotive alliance, they said in a statement Thursday. While each manufacturer will sell vehicles under its own U.S. and Japanese brands, the companies will cooperate in areas such as parts and materials purchasing, research activities and connected-car services.

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