Ford and Toyota announced this week they are going their separate ways after teaming up in 2011 to develop a hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain system for light-duty trucks. After completing a feasibility study of their collaboration, the companies have decided to proceed on development of individual hybrid systems, according to Toyota.
The end of the partnership comes as Ford gains share in U.S. hybrid vehicle sales and announced it is hiring 200 "electrification engineers" and expanding research facilities to accelerate its development of hybrids. The American automaker said its own hybrid drive system for pickups and large SUVs would be available by the end of the decade.
"We know what it takes to build world-class hybrids, and we now will build and leverage that expertise in-house," said Raj Nair, group vice president of Ford's global product development. "By continuing to develop a rear-wheel-drive hybrid system on our own, we can extend our advanced hybrid technologies to new vehicle segments."
Toyota’s immensely popular Prius line has so far given it a comfortable lead in U.S. hybrid sales, and the company says it is on track to offer 18 new or redesigned hybrid models globally by the end of 2015. But Ford has gained ground in the past year with its C-Max hybrid and gasoline-electric versions of its Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans. At SB '13 last month, Global Director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters John Viera said in an interview that Ford has sold more hybrid vehicles in the first five months of 2013 than in any previous year — more than 24,000 — and now claims 16% of the U.S. electrified vehicle market.
Both companies said they will continue to consider working together in the future on next-generation standards for telematics and other innovations, according to Toyota. In the meantime, the race to develop the new technologies that could dominate the U.S. hybrid market will continue.
In other Ford news this week, the company became the first automaker to sign onto a voluntary greenhouse gas reporting program in India.