Auto giants Toyota Motor Corp and BMW AG have signed an agreement to work together on research for cleaner, next-generation car batteries, with the aim of producing cheaper “green vehicles” in the future.
At a press conference held in Tokyo on Thursday, representatives from both companies announced their intention to develop specific advanced powertrain technologies, with the initial focus to be placed in research of lithium-ion batteries.
"We are now joining forces to further develop environmentally-friendly technologies and to expand our innovation leadership in each of our segments," said BMW’s chairman Norbert Reithofer, in a statement cited by AP.
The agreement comes just three months after Toyota, the industry leader in hybrid car sales, announced its plans to collaborate with Ford Motor Company on hybrid powertrain development. The Ford-Toyota collaboration though did not specific any work on battery development.
Lithium-ion battery technology is now commonly used in consumer electronic products, though it has yet to be fully embraced by the auto industry.
In the past few years, Toyota has struggled to find a good lithium-ion battery source for its green cars, despite having collaborated previously with Sanyo Electric Co and Panasonic Corp to look into getting better lithium-ion technology.
However, the latest link-up with BMW could expand the research capabilities of both companies, as they strive to produce inexpensive hybrid vehicles to meet the growing demand from the market.
"This collaboration will allow for the development of the next-generation battery faster and at a higher level," said Toyota’s Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada at the conference.
“The battery technology that we will develop with BMW will be the core technology for both reducing and replacing petroleum fuel,” he added.
With the enormous research and development costs associated with green auto technology, there has been a recent trend among rivals to collaborate on specific clean-tech projects. At this week’s Tokyo motor show Toyota unveiled a car that was jointly developed with Subaru, while BMW has been supplying engines to the Peugeot-Citroen group for some time.