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BMW and Toyota Deepen Collaboration

By Titus Hsu
Epoch Times Staff
Created: January 27, 2013 Last Updated: February 6, 2013
Related articles: Life » Autos
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BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation have signed agreements to expand their long-term collaboration begun in December 2011. (Courtesy of Toyota Media)

BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation have signed agreements to expand their long-term collaboration begun in December 2011. (Courtesy of Toyota Media)

BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) first agreed to form a long-term collaborative relationship for developing next-generation environment-friendly vehicles and technologies in December 2011. At that time, the two companies also signed a contract under which BMW Group is to supply highly efficient diesel engines to Toyota Motor Europe.

On Jan. 24 this year, BMW Group and TMC signed a binding agreement to expand the collaboration between the two companies. 

“TMC and the BMW Group share the same strategic vision of future sustainable mobility,” said Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG. 

“In light of the technological changes ahead, the entire automotive industry faces tremendous challenges, which we also regard as an opportunity. This collaboration is an important building block in keeping both companies on a successful course in the future.”

The following are the four new areas of collaboration.

Fuel Cell System

The fuel cell project is exciting news as it indicates that the industry is looking beyond the battery-based hybrid systems widely used today.

The two companies believe fuel cell technology is a possible solution for the future, and will be collaborating on developing a basis for fuel-cell powered vehicles. This encompasses more than just a fuel cell stack and system—it also includes a hydrogen tank, motor, and battery. The targeted completion date for this project is the year 2020. 

The companies will also work together on assessing hydrogen infrastructure development and in creating codes and standards necessary for the popularization of fuel cell vehicles.

Sports Vehicle

TMC and the BMW Group are conducting a feasibility study to define a joint platform for a mid-size sports vehicle. It is unclear how much will be included in this joint platform, but both companies have considerable expertise to bring to the table.

Lightweight Technology

The companies are to jointly develop lightweight technologies for vehicle bodies using cutting-edge materials such as reinforced composites. There are plans to use the result of this development on the jointly developed sports vehicle, and possibly other BMW or Toyota vehicles.

Post-Lithium Battery Technology

Joint research with a goal to develop a lithium-air battery with energy density greatly exceeding that of current lithium-ion batteries will also begin.

TMC president Akio Toyoda said “steadfast progress” has been made since the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in June 2012. 

“Now, we are entering the phase that promises the fruit,” he added. “While placing importance on what we learn from the joint development, we will work hard together in reaching our common goal of making ever-better cars.”

The fuel cell project is exciting news as it indicates that the industry is looking beyond the battery-based hybrid systems widely used today. 

The major concerns around the current system are mostly related to the battery—namely, the range, the recharge time, the weight, and the environmental impact from the manufacturing and eventual disposal. 

Fuel cell technology being researched in the auto industry aims to use hydrogen as the replacement for fossil fuel. Another alternative being researched is bio fuel made by using algae as opposed to corn.

Toyota has recently been putting efforts into developing fun-to-drive, performance-oriented vehicles in its lineup. Its recent joint development with Subaru produced the highly regarded Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins.

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