Toyota Motor Corp. is close to securing a final deal to license its fuel-cell vehicle technology to BMW, according to a report by the Nikkei business newspaper. The Japanese daily reported that under the agreement, Toyota will provide the German premium carmaker with drivetrain and hydrogen storage technology.
The report added that the agreement may become official as early as Thursday. BMW plans to employ the technology to produce a prototype vehicle by 2015, with intentions for a market release around 2020, the Nikkei reported. The two carmakers have been expanding their r&d ties over 2012.
In December 2011, the carmakers announced that they will collaborate on green car technologies, including the joint development of lithium-ion batteries. The carmakers also then announced that BMW would supply diesel engines to Toyota in Europe as part of the partnership deal.
In June 2012, Toyota and BMW expanded their tie-up by signing a memorandum to collaborate on developing fuel cells to power and designing components for a future sports car as they expand on their joint work to build next-generation car batteries.
Fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity, which can be used to power cars and trucks. Fuel-cell vehicles can operate five times longer than battery-run electric units on a single power-up. Also, it only takes a few minutes to fill the tank with hydrogen, compared with around 8 hours needed to recharge a battery. According to the Nikkei, Daimler, General Motors, Nissan, Honda and Hyundai Motor are also exerting r&d efforts develop fuel-cell vehicles.