The technical ties between Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW are deepening with a joint development plan being considered for sports car platform, lithium-air batteries and new lightweight materials. They also seek to co-develop a fuel cell system for vehicles by 2020. The official agreement was introduced this week. It provides an outline of their partnership that was first revealed in 2011.
The companies are targeting four areas: “(1) Study of a shared sports vehicle platform by the year's end; (2) Joint development of a hydrogen fuel cell system by 2020; (3) Cooperation in developing lightweight technologies; and (4) Research into next-generation lithium-based batteries. A feasibility study will be launched to determine a joint platform concept for a mid-sized sports vehicle. They seek to have this study completed by the end of this year.
These two companies will also come together to develop a new generation of batteries with higher energy density than the lithium ion batteries that’s presently available in hybrid and electric cars. They mentioned that they will be exploring the use of lithium-air batteries. Their deal will also have them aim to use lightweight materials such as reinforced composites more extensively. These lightweight technologies will be used in the joint platforms and in their respective cars.
The focus of the hydrogen fuel cell collaboration will be on the development of the fuel cell stack, hydrogen tank, motor and battery. In addition, they will be jointly studying how to prepare the infrastructure to improve their support of the production of hydrogen-fueled vehicles.
Toyota Vice Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, who had headed the Prius hybrid development in late 1990s, said that the FCVs (fuel cell vehicles) have to be more affordable so that they will be more widely used. Doing so would need a lot of time and cost for development. At a news conference with BMW at Nagoya, central Japan, Uchiyamada said that with the coming together of Toyota and BMW, they could set a target for FCVs to be “more popular much quicker.”