Ford Turns to Toyota for Hybrid Car Help

Toyota announced last Tuesday that Ford would use some of its hybrid engine technology, in a pact that underlines the Japanese auto giant's strong lead in eco-friendly gasoline-electric systems.

Toyota, which recently overtook Ford to become the world's second-largest automaker, is keen to see the overall market for hybrids grow while promoting its technology and expanding its hybrid lineup.

It has said it might supply hybrids to other automakers as part of its goal to produce 300,000 of the eco-friendly vehicles annually by the middle of the decade.

Under the agreement, Toyota's patents on gasoline-electric hybrid engine system control and emission purification have been licensed for use in Ford's own hybrid system, which is under development.

“Toyota's move with Ford today puts [the companies] one step closer towards achieving critical mass for their hybrid technology, [and it means] enhanced prospects for meaningful profitability,” says Kurt Sanger, an auto analyst at ING.

Toyota made its name as a world leader in hybrid technology in 1997 when it launched the Prius sedan on the Japanese market. The Prius is the first mass-produced vehicle to combine a battery-powered motor and a gasoline engine, significantly reducing emissions.