Daimler began developing fuel-cell vehicles way back in 1994. To date, the company has spent $1.23 billion on the propulsion technology. Toyota entered into the hydrogen realm even earlier by kicking off development back in 1992. With decades of combined experience, both companies have become front runners in fuel-cell technology. Toyota and Honda became the first automakers to put commercial hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles on the roads back in 2002.
As you are likely aware, Toyota has teamed up with Tesla for development of electric vehicles at NUMMI. Now, a new report suggests that the company may join forces with Daimler (which also holds stake in Tesla) to develop affordable hydrogen-powered vehicles.
According to the Financial Times Deutschland (as reported in Reuters), Toyota and Daimler plan "extensive cooperation in the field of fuel cells for electric cars." The Financial Times also suggests that the collaborative work could take the form of a joint venture. The newspaper contacted both companies for official confirmation, but Toyota denied knowledge of any such deal and Daimler was not available for comment.
Last year, some of the major players in fuel cell technology agreed to work together to promote the adoption of the hydrogen-powered vehicle. Within that group, we saw names like Daimler, Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai. With so many companies pledging to combine their might on fuel-cell vehicle development, we assumed that some sort of joint venture would emerge. Tim Urquhart, an analyst at IHS Global Insight suggests that a Toyota-Daimler joint venture could benefit both companies. As Urquhart said:
At this point, it may just be wishful thinking, but we'd love to see a joint venture between the two companies. It would surely help out the hydrogen vehicle programs of each respective company and a joint venture might even bring more jobs back to NUMMI.The high development costs associated with trying to bring fuel-cell powertrain technology to production means that it is a highly logical step for Daimler and Toyota to try and share the costs and their extensive knowledge in fuel-cell technology.