Sometimes, in order to develop new automobile technology faster and cheaper, such as hybrid vehicle technology, a couple of automakers may collaborate and share what they learn with each other.
Sometimes, these collaborations end with some new vehicle technology, such as the Toyota RAV4 EV that has a Tesla Motors-designed powertrain. Other times, the companies part ways, such as a recent announcement by Toyota and Ford that they would be discontinuing their collaboration to develop hybrid vehicle technology for trucks and SUVs.
Ford’s decision to work together with Toyota wasn’t surprising when it started a couple of years ago, since Toyota is the recognized world leader in hybrid vehicle technology. On the other it, when you consider Ford’s rousing success with its lineup of hybrid vehicles, including Hybrid and Energi [Plug-In Hybrid] versions of the C-Max, Fusion, and Escape.
Hybrid vehicle technology’s integration into trucks and SUVs though, will be a difficult proposition. Both automakers realize that owners of these vehicles won’t settle for poor performance. After all, there’s a reason that the Toyota Prius isn’t equipped with a Class III hitch. A jump is needed if a hybrid truck or SUV is going to be used for heavy duty applications. Actually, both conventional engine and electric motor technology are up to the task, but balancing them in a hybrid vehicle control system is going to be sticky.
Both automakers, Toyota and Ford, will continue to develop hybrid vehicle technology, integrating it into their next generation of trucks and SUVs, but we don’t expect to see anything on the showroom floors until at least the end of the decade. Toyota was first in the hybrid vehicle market and currently reigns supreme in the worldwide hybrid market. On the other hand, Ford is well-known for their lineup of trucks, such as the best-selling F-150 series. Who’ll be first to hybridize?