Big news from two auto big auto companies with big ties to our region. Ford, the second-biggest American auto company, and Toyota, Japan’s biggest, said today they’ll be teaming up to develop a new hybrid-electric system for light trucks and sport utility vehicles.
The pair have signed a memorandum of understanding, with a formal agreement coming by next year.
Until now, the two companies have been working independently on hybrid systems for rear-wheel drive vehicles. But now, they’ll pool their resources, hoping that the project will let them bring hybrids to consumers “sooner and more affordably than either company could have accomplished alone,” according to the announcement.
Said Ford CEO Alan Mulally. “This is the kind of collaborative effort that is required to address the big global challenges of energy independence and environmental sustainability.”
Ford is based in Dearborn, Mich., while Toyota has engineering, design and safety operations in and near Ann Arbor.
The pair have collaborated many times in the past, on hybrids and on other projects. When Toyota was getting back on its feet after World War II, company officials were given access to Ford’s Rouge manufacturing complex in order to get ideas for restarting their assembly lines.
Within months of joining Ford in 2006, Mulally flew to Japan to visit the company’s then-chairman, Fujio Cho. Before that, Mulally used Toyota’s production system when he was at Boeing to streamline the aircraft manufacturer’s assembly lines.