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Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Toyota and Ford are planning to jointly develop a gas-electric hybrid engine for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.



This will be a project to watch and keep an eye on as it unfolds. The companies have agreed to share development costs to make the technology more affordable for customers and bring it to market faster. Many details have yet to be worked out, but both said their vehicles would remain unique even if they share the same drive systems.

The deal will help both companies meet more stringent fuel economy and pollution standards in the U.S. and elsewhere, while at the same time keeping larger vehicles viable if gas prices continue to rise.

The companies aren’t sure yet what kind of gas mileage the platform will get, but they know that hybrid trucks would help automakers meet U.S. fuel economy standards that require new vehicles to average 56.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Trucks will have lower mileage targets, but still being part of the mix would have to improve to meet the standards.

Both companies are targeting pickup trucks, which for both are big sellers. Ford’s F-Series pickup is a top-selling vehicle in the U.S., and Toyota is building quite a reliable brand in the full-sized pickup market with Tundra.

Both companies now sell thousands of hybrid cars and Prius is the world leader in hybrid sales. For trucks though, they’ll have to develop a different system platform with enough power to haul and tow heavy loads.

It is conceivable that the trucks could have the same engine and transmission, but at the same time have strong differences unique to the brand.

It will take a year for the companies to figure out who will do what research. After that, they would sign a definitive agreement that would lay out timelines to develop the technology. It will take at least two or three years after that to develop a platform system. Toyota and Ford  hope to bring high mileage Hybrid trucks to market this decade.