Toyota Motor Corp. said it will expand its alliance with Germany’s BMW AG to promote gas-electric hybrid vehicles and gain market shares in Europe.
The June 29 announcement in Munich said Toyota and BMW will jointly research hybrid and plug-in hybrid technologies as well as techniques to lower vehicle weight.
Toyota will provide fuel-cell systems to BMW by 2015 and jointly develop related technologies. The two automakers will also develop sports cars together.
BMW is strong in sports car development and techniques to lower vehicle weight, such as the use of carbon fiber.
The original alliance, agreed to in December, was limited to joint research on lithium-ion batteries and BMW’s supply of diesel engines to Toyota in Europe.
Toyota, a global leader in hybrid vehicles, is struggling in Europe, where diesel engines are traditionally popular and seen as a way to clear stricter environmental standards.
At a news conference, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said the enhanced alliance will not lead to a capital tie-up between the two companies.
Toyota hopes the alliance will increase sales of hybrid vehicles in Europe and lower production costs. The Japanese carmaker can save costs and time by jointly developing technologies on motor controls and lighter vehicle bodies.
The alliance is also expected to help Toyota take the lead in establishing international standards.
Meanwhile, BMW is planning to introduce electric vehicles next year and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2014. A key challenge is to lower costs, and the alliance with Toyota should help.
BMW also expects to use hybrid-related patents owned by Toyota, sources said.