Toyota And BMW To Develop Fuel-Cells, Sports car
|   Saturday, January 26, 2013
Toyota and BMW are tightening their technical ties with plans to jointly develop a sports car platform, as well as lithium-air batteries and new lightweight materials.

The two automakers also want to jointly develop a fuel cell system for cars by 2020. The companies unveiled their agreement recently, after a blueprint for this cooperation was first announced in 2011.

With the signing of this agreement, the companies will focus on these areas: the cooperation in developing lightweight technologies, research into next-generation lithium-based batteries, develop a hydrogen fuel cell system by 2020, and put together a sports car platform by the end of the year.


The most realistic objective is the last on and so the two will undergo a feasibility study to find a joint platform concept for a mid-sized sports vehicle. They hope to finish it by the year's end.

Toyota and BMW will also team up in developing the next generation of batteries with a higher energy density than the present lithium-ion batteries used in hybrids and electric cars. They said that lithium-air batteries are the new chemistry that is to be explored.

The use of lightweight materials, which include reinforced composites, is another goal of the accord. BMW and Toyota want to include these lightweight technologies in their joint sports platform besides their own cars; carbon fiber is expected to feature heavily.

The hydrogen fuel cell part will focus on developing the fuel cell stack, hydrogen tank, the motor and battery. Furthermore, they will also study how to prepare the currently lacking infrastructure to support the rollout of hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

"In order for FCVs (fuel cell vehicles) to become more widely used, it needs to be cheaper. That would require a great deal of time and cost for development," said Toyota Vice Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, the same person who led the development of the Prius hybrid in late 1990s. "By bringing together the wisdom of two companies, we can aim to make FCVs more popular much quicker," he told a news conference with BMW at Nagoya, central Japan.

Toyota declared that it wants to introduce around a new fuel cell vehicle using the tech developed with BMW around 2020, while BMW said that a launch date has yet to be decided. Before that, around 2015, Toyota plans to start selling a fuel cell sedan.

Moreover, it was clearly stated by the two companies that a capital tie-up is not in the books right now.

Toyota and BMW announced their intention to cooperate in December 2011. Last June, a memorandum of understanding that roughly outlined the areas of collaboration was signed. "We are making steadfast progress," Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in a release today. "Now, we are entering the phase that promises the fruit."

This accord also expands an earlier agreement in which BMW is to supply Toyota with diesel engines. BMW has said it will supply Toyota with 1.6 liter and 2 liter engines for Toyota's European models starting with 2014. For BMW, the partnership opens the way for the company to team up with the largest manufacturer of hybrid vehicles, all the while keeping its distance from Volkswagen's Audi, which aims to overtake BMW as the world's best-selling luxury brand.
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