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Ford and Toyota’s hybrid cooperation is part of a global trend

Ford Motor and Toyota said they will jointly develop an advanced hybrid system for light trucks and SUVs that will arrive later this decade.

The announcement by the two companies continues a trend toward more targeted cooperation pacts between competing automakers,

The two companies said they had signed a memorandum of understanding about the product development and said they hoped to have a formal agreement next year.

Both carmakers have already done substantial work on the next generation of real-wheel drive hybrid systems for US-market vehicles. By pooling their resources now they hope to speed up development and lower costs.

"This agreement brings together the capability of two global leaders in hybrid vehicles and hybrid technology to develop a better solution more quickly and affordably for our customers,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president in charge of global product development.

Added Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota executive vice president, research & development: "We expect to create exciting technologies that benefit society with Ford ”“ and we can do so through the experience the two companies have in hybrid technology.”

As envisioned now, Ford and Toyota will jointly develop the new hybrid system and component technology but will independently integrate it in their future models.

In addition, the two companies agreed to cooperate in the area of telematics platforms with an aim to bring more Internet-based services and information to consumers globally. The collaboration will be limited to standards and technologies. Each company will continue to separately develop its own in-vehicle products and features.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally hailed the agreement as a necessary step to prepare car companies for the future. "This is the kind of collaborative effort that is required to address the big global challenges of energy independence and environmental sustainability,” he said.

Carmakers, looking for ways to reduce costs, have in recent years cooperated in a growing number of areas. PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and BMW  share engines, PSA and Toyota jointly build cars in Kolin, Czech Republic; Fiat builds small cars for itself and for competitor Ford in Poland; Mitsubishi builds SUVs for itself and PSA.

But there are relatively few cooperation pacts between competitors to jointly develop core technologies.