Toyota, BMW Form Long-Term Partnership to Develop Greener Cars

Toyota, BMW Form Long-Term Partnership to Develop Greener Cars

Image CC licensed by Flickr user SOCIALisBETTER

Toyota and BMW are teaming up for a partnership that will marry each others' strengths as the automakers look to expand their greener car lines in existing markets.

BMW and Toyota signed a memorandum of understanding for a "mid-to-long-term collaboration" to research lithium-ion batteries. BMW will also supply diesel engines to Toyota Motor Europe to help Toyota grow its European lineup of diesel-powered cars.

The deal, announced at the Tokyo Motor Show today, makes sense for a variety of reasons.

Like just about every other automaker, BMW has been looking for ways to make its fleet greener to both compete in the marketplace and comply with regulations -- BMW was one of 12 automakers to support the 54.5 miles-per-gallon proposal from the Obama Administration and must obey carbon emissions vehicle rules in the European Union.

The company unveiled in recent months new electric vehicle concepts under its BMW i brand, and said it would begin shipping its Active E and producing upcoming ActiveHybrid versions of 3- and 5-series vehicles, Adam Happel reported Monday.

"BMW put a stake in the ground as the No. 1 premium vehicle manufacturer shaping the future of mobility," Happel wrote.

Toyota would be the perfect partner to help BMW gain a stronger foothold in the hybrid and electric car markets. The Toyota Prius was the world's first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, hitting the 3-million sales mark earlier this year. And the company has learned the value of partnerships to drive green innovation.

Toyota has its hands in many cookie jars, ranging from the recent pairing with Ford to speed up development of hybrid vehicle systems for SUVs and trucks, to its $50 million investment in Tesla Motors that will move the company toward an all-electric RAV4 SUV.

As The New York Times noted today, Toyota has struggled in Europe, where diesel-powered vehicles rule the roost. It seems that if Toyota can't beat them, it'll join them: BMW, which already has vehicles with advanced diesel engine technologies on the market, will supply 1.6-liter and 2-liter diesel engines to Toyota Motor Europe starting in 2014.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user SOCIALisBETTER.