Ford-Toyota partnership is truly a good collaboration. Two of the biggest auto company is having a good deal. When I made a decision to go purchase a new car, I knew precisely what I needed to get. Toyota is such a reliable brand that has cars I can drive all over the place. I went to a dealership in Atlanta to get my new Toyota. Sandy Springs Toyota was a lot of help. They had experts to help me select the perfect car with all options that I wanted. I was very pleased with my purchase. You are able to go to Sandy Springs Toyota Atlanta too! AN dlet just see how this auto partnership works.
Chuck, glad to see a chance meeting and honest admiration of a competitor can lead to what has the potential to be a promising, yet challenging development alliance. Now if only we could get our two-party government to do the same!
Beth: In answer to your questions: It's a surprise to see Toyota and Ford team up. The way they tell it, it all started with a chance meeting in an airport terminal. It's well known, though, that Alan Mulally has always been a great admirer of Toyota. Regarding why it makes sense now: Yes, it's because these big hybrid powertrains are so incredibly expensive to develop. The GM-Chrysler-Daimler-BMW coop spent over a billion dollars, starting in 2004. Toyota and Ford both have significant experience in this arena, but the costs will still be very high.
Fuel efficiency is a function not only of drive efficiency but also rolling and aerodynamic drag. Although pickup trucks will benefit from a hybrid drive system, 30 MPH is possible but anything higher would be a real stretch. This is called managing user expectations.
What is realistic is to look at the 3.5L Highlander Hybrid compared to the 3.7L F150. Both have nearly identical payload, 3/4 ton, but the hybrid gets 28 MPG versus 18 MPG for the pickup. I've long wondered why Toyota didn't cut behind the front seats and back to the rear. Enclose the cabin and finish the bed to sell a hybrid pickup. Better still, eliminate the glass put in a sliding door on the 'street side' and sell a hybrid panel truck.
As for GM's two-mode transmission, a first generation GM effort, it reminds me of Rube Goldberg with way too many parts. It is as if the design teams could not make a clean break with hydro-mechanical transmissions but tried to force-fit motors into the case. But this is somewhat understandable.
Back when the two-mode design was being created, the management of GM, Chyrsler, and the Europeans were actively supporting hybrid-hostile efforts. It is hard for an engineer to do something advanced when those who sign your checks are willfully ignorant and dismissive of your future, hybrid customers.
I rode in a pre-production, Saturn Vue that had a down-sized, two-mode to compete with the Ford Escape. A nice, 5-seat, SUV, GM killed it and the whole Saturn line which characterized the poisionous corporate environment of the rapidly going bankrupt GM. - Bob Wilson
The collaboration between Ford and Toyota does seem to have the potential to dramatically increase the likelihood of a reliable truck hybrid powertrain. When people think pick-up truck, they think Ford F150. However, when people think F150, they think 21 MPG. Increasing a truck to the 40 - 50 MPG range would definitely be worth the higher price tag usually seen on hybrid vehicles.
It is amazing that this collaboration that will most likely involve millions of dollars started with a chance meeting in an airport. This incident shows that thre world indeed is getting smaller, and it is important to always be on the lookout for new opportunities no matter where you are.
When I saw this, my first thought was of how unusual it would be for two avid rivals to partner around something so highly competitive and so important to their future. I know you mention another prominent partnership among leading auto makers in this same post, Chuck. Is it usual that these two would team up?
That said, this kind of "coopetition," as some call it, became somewhat common place in the PC/IT industry to varying degrees of success. Is it because that the development stakes are so high and the costs so extreme that it makes sense now for Toyota and Ford to combine forces?