bmw reithofer toyoda.automotiveIT

Toyota’s Toyoda (left) and BMW’s Reithofer agree to step up cooperation (Photo: BMW)

Toyota and BMW last week said they plan to broaden their cooperation in technologies that will help define the cars of tomorrow.

The two automakers said they will explore cooperation possibilities in the areas of powertrain electrification, lightweight technologies, fuel cells and future vehicle architectures. They mentioned in particular a joint architecture for a sports car.

The plan by the German and Japanese automakers to broaden their cooperation follows an agreement in March to jointly conduct research in the area of lithium-ion battery cell technology, which is crucial for the growth of the electric-vehicle industry. As part of that agreement, BMW will also supply Toyota with diesel engines from 2014.

BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer, at a joint press conference with Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, said his company and Toyota work well together because they are both "innovation leaders and the most sustainable car companies in their segment." He cited Toyota's pioneering role in hybrid technology and BMW's engine prowess as key examples of what each is bringing to the table.

Toyoda said the two companies are coming together to build better cars, not to become bigger players in the global market. He said Toyota's strength in environment-friendly hybrids and fuel cells will likely be useful to BMW, while he cited BMW's capabilities in building performance cars as of interest to Toyota.

"BMW is not only a premium brand.BMW knows how to make a car perform," Toyoda said.

The closer ties between the two companies are also part of a continuing realignment of the global auto industry, where partnerships are agreed, changed, dissolved or renewed on a regular basis.

Earlier this month, BMW confirmed, according to press reports, that it was no longer pursuing a fuel-cell cooperation with General Motors. The US carmaker earlier this year announced a wide-ranging partnership with France's PSA/Peugeot-Citroen.

BMW's Reithofer stressed the importance of close links with other carmakers. "For the BMW Group, strategic partnerships are an essential part of our Strategy Number One." He was referring to the premium car maker'slong-term plan to boost profitability and prepare the group for the new automotive environment.