Ford and Toyota team up for cheaper hybrids

Ford and Toyota are to collaborate on delivering vehicles with hybrid technology, they announced August 22, in a major alliance which could be good news for consumers.

The automotive giants announced Monday that they would pool their respective resources when it came to research into gasoline-hybrid powertrains, with the aim of developing an "advanced" new hybrid system for light truck and SUV drivers.

The agreement will see Toyota - the world's largest automaker and manufacturer of the Prius, the world's best-selling hybrid vehicle - and Ford collaborate on a rear-wheel hybrid system that will be based on a completely new architecture.

The companies said that they believe working together will deliver a cheaper product for consumers hungry for fuel-efficient vehicles, with the co-branded technology expected to be integrated into both Ford and Toyota SUVs and light trucks.

It also said that the partnership would reduce the time taken to design such a system - the first vehicles using it are set to debut later this decade.

Although both automakers currently produce hybrid cars, such as the Prius, Lexus CT200h, Ford Focus Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid, building a large hybrid capable of hauling heavy loads will require an evolution in technology that such a partnership could accelerate.

The tie-up, though, is likely to worry competitors such as General Motors and Honda, both rapidly rolling out their own hybrid products in a bid to satisfy a rapidly growing demand for green vehicles.

A forecast published by Pike Research this week suggests that by 2017, cumulative sales of hybrid electric vehicles will have reached 8.7 million units.