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.

It marks a major step in the integration of operations at two of the world’s largest automakers, even though terms are still being worked out and the two companies don’t plan a capital tie-up. Their pairing signals the industry’s struggle to fund next-generation electric, driverless and connected technologies while still keeping their existing gas-powered car and truck businesses flush.