BMW Ditches GM, Opting For Toyota On Fuel-Cell And Hybrid Research
|   Saturday, June 30, 2012
Although a written agreement was not reached, BMW and GM seemed quite advanced in their talks concerning hydrogen fuel-cell tech. Talks started back in December, but now things are over between the two automakers.

According to Bloomberg, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) has ceased talks with GM on the topic of fuel-cell collaboration. That does not mean all relations have been dropped between the two companies. It seems the Germans have decided the Japanese from Toyota would be the better choice.


This is not the first time BMW and Toyota join hands. Back in December, the automakers signed a partnership with the purpose of improving lithium-ion battery capabilities. At that time, it was also mentioned that future projects in the field of green car tech would be approached; now we have the confirmation of that.

In an official conference held on the 29th of June, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer and Toyota President Akio Toyoda have announced they have signed an agreement that allows joint development of a fuel-cell system, joint development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle, collaboration on powertrain electrification and joint research and development on lightweight technologies. So, the two companies have gone beyond what initial speculation and inside information pointed out.

In hindsight, it seems logical the tow would join efforts. Toyota is the world's most successful hybrid manufacturer, as well as a pioneer in this field (the first Prius came out in 1997). Furthermore, Toyota has plans to launch a hydrogen powered vehicle by 2015. This will be a risky endeavor, as costs will be high and the infrastructure is even less developed than the EV network.

BMW is also not a novice in this field, with the second generation hybrid cars (the hybrid 5 Series and the hybrid 3 Series sedans were unveiled last year and now we have a revised ActiveHybrid 7). Therefore, both partners have something interesting to offer each other.

According to a Reuters source, it wouldn't be too surprising that in the future a BMW will roll out with a Toyota hybrid drivetrain.
This alliance will also be profitable on the long run for BMW. Its alliance with PSA/Peugeot-Citroen is starting to shake and with it, its supply of hybrid parts. The Germans need something more stable and Toyota is just the company to fill that role. In a previous arrangement, BMW will supply Toyota with its clean diesel engines in Europe starting in 2014. Now, it is BMW's turn to be helped by the Japanese.

In order to comply with new emission rules effective from 2020 onwards, BMW needs to reduce its fleet-wide emissions to 101 g per km. Norbert Reithofer believes the only way to do that is to increase the number of hybrids and EVs produced.

This alliance is bound to prove beneficial for everyone involved. BMW and Toyota get access to each others' tech, making both companies' cars more preferment and possibly cheaper, to the greater joy of buyers. Also, environmental agencies will sleep soundly at nights knowing pollution levels are going down.
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