Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., the world's biggest seller of gasoline-electric autos, said they will collaborate to develop a hybrid system for light trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
The two automakers agreed to a memorandum of understanding that calls for developing the vehicle technology this decade, as well as working together on in-car communications systems and Internet-based services, according to a joint statement today.
"This agreement brings together the capability of two global leaders in hybrid vehicles and hybrid technology to develop a better solution more quickly and affordably," Derrick Kuzak, Ford's product development chief, said in the statement.
Ford is joining forces with the Toyota City, Japan-based automaker as the U.S. company plans to triple North American production of electric vehicles and hybrids to more than 100,000 models by 2013 as it works to make a quarter of its vehicles run at least partly on electricity. Ford now has three hybrid models and sells about 35,000 gasoline-electric autos annually.
Toyota's Prius car is the best-selling hybrid in the U.S., with 74,427 sold this year through July.
Ford, based in Dearborn, Michigan, expanded production plans in June for the C-Max hybrid wagon and C-Max Energi plug- in hybrid. Ford plans to begin producing the five-passenger wagon next year in the U.S., where it doesn't expect to sell a gasoline-only version. Ford also plans to introduce an electric version of its Focus small car in 2012.
Ford now offers hybrid versions of the Escape sport-utility vehicle and the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans.
Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally has revived the company in part by focusing on fuel efficiency and broadening the lineup with small cars such as the Fiesta subcompact. Ford is the only major U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy, and earned $9.28 billion in the past two years after $30.1 billion in losses from 2006 through 2008. The automaker reported net income of $4.95 billion in this year's first half.