Back in June, Toyota and BMW announced a "memorandum of understanding" outlining plans for the two companies to join forces on future products and technology development. On Thursday, they signed a more formal and binding agreement that goes further into detail about the partnership, and it all sounds pretty exciting. The two announced they will work together in four main areas:
  1. Joint development of a fuel cell system
  2. "Set up a feasibility study to define a joint platform concept for a mid-size sports vehicle"
  3. Focus on lightweight technology – the agreement mentions reinforced composites that could be used in the aforementioned sports vehicle
  4. Better batteries – the companies will work to develop a lithium-air battery with a much greater energy density than today's cells.
The most intriguing item is the mention of a "mid-size sports vehicle." The vague term had us wondering what, exactly, is meant by "sports vehicle," but we're being assured this feasibility study is centered on a sports car. Is this the first step toward a Supra revival?

Despite our fervor for all things sports car, however, fuel cell research could prove to be the pact's most important point. Both companies have built advanced fuel research vehicles, with Toyota favoring fuel cells and BMW leaning toward hydrogen-powered, internal combustion. The press release specifically lists fuel cell stacks, hydrogen tanks, motors and batteries as areas of interest. If the two can eventually bring a fuel-cell vehicle to market at an affordable price point, it would be huge news, although there's always the problem of infrastructure to support such cars. BMW and Toyota's new deal can't solve everything though, right? Read the full press release below for more information.
Show full PR text
BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation Deepen Collaboration by Signing Binding Agreements

Fuel Cell System, Sports Vehicle, Lightweight Technology and Lithium-air Battery Collaboration to Commence

Munich - BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) are pursuing their successful strategic long-term cooperation in the field of sustainable mobility today by signing binding agreements aimed at long-term collaboration between the two companies for the joint development of a fuel cell system, joint development of architecture and components for a sports vehicle, and joint research and development of lightweight technologies. These agreements follow a memorandum of understanding signed in June 2012.

Furthermore, BMW Group and TMC also today signed a binding agreement to commence collaborative research on lithium-air batteries, a post-lithium-battery solution. This agreement marks the second phase of collaborative research into next-generation lithium-ion battery cells that commenced in March 2012.

The main points of the agreements are:

1. Fuel cell system
The companies are convinced that fuel cell technology is one of the solutions necessary to achieve zero emissions. BMW Group and TMC are to share their technologies and to jointly develop a fundamental fuel-cell vehicle system, including not only a fuel cell stack and system, but also a hydrogen tank, motor and battery, aiming for completion in 2020.
- The companies are to collaborate in jointly developing codes and standards for the hydrogen infrastructure which are necessary for the popularization of fuel cell vehicles.

2. Sports vehicle
The companies agreed to set-up a feasibility study to define a joint platform concept for a mid-size sports vehicle that is to be completed by the end of 2013. The two companies aim to combine each other's technology and knowledge at a high level to maximise customer satisfaction. Both companies are to share the vision to further collaborate in the field of sports vehicle development.

3. Lightweight technology
The companies are to jointly develop lightweight technologies for vehicle bodies using cutting-edge materials such as reinforced composites, with an eye to utilize these technologies in cooperation on the joint development of a sports-vehicle platform as well as other BMW and TMC vehicles.

4. Post-lithium-battery technology
The companies are to begin joint research with a goal to develop a lithium-air battery with energy density greatly exceeding that of current lithium-ion batteries.

Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG said: "TMC and the BMW Group share the same strategic vision of future sustainable mobility. In light of the technological changes ahead, the entire automotive industry faces tremendous challenges, which we also regard as an opportunity. This collaboration is an important building block in keeping both companies on a successful course in the future."

Akio Toyoda, President of TMC said: "It is just over a year since we signed our collaborative MoU, and with each day as our relationship strengthens, we feel acutely that we are making steadfast progress. Now, we are entering the phase that promises the fruit. While placing importance on what we learn from the joint development, we will work hard together in reaching our common goal of making ever-better cars."

BMW Group and TMC first agreed to form a medium-to-long-term collaborative relationship for developing next-generation environment-friendly vehicles and technologies in December 2011, at which time the two companies also signed a contract under which BMW Group is to supply highly efficient diesel engines to Toyota Motor Europe. BMW Group and TMC ― as long-term strategic partners ― have since continued their joint efforts to realize sustainable mobility for the future.


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  • 88 Comments
      lazybeans
      • 1 Year Ago
      BMW doesn't need Toyota to help them make a sports car. I think this is more about building a sports car with more advanced hybrid tech. They see Tesla smoking the competition with the Tesla S and they know they need to get going to capture that market. Toyota being an expert in hybrid tech will be a helpful partner.
      n.bob2
      • 1 Year Ago
      When the Germains and the Japanese get together on something we should all pay attention.
      mapoftazifosho
      • 1 Year Ago
      MR2 hybrid with 6-speed manual would be pretty damn cool so long as they could keep it under 2500 lbs. Having the traction motor provide additional torque could make for a fun and efficient impractical car! Basically what the Honda CRZ will never be...
      carfan
      • 1 Year Ago
      why would a prestigious company like BMW jeopardize its good name and reputation by \"teaming\" up with this bunch of cheats, thieves, liars, makers of inferior quality gangerous, unreliable POS. BMWs one of the TOP car manufacturers in the world, AND IT WILL NOT BE BMWHO WOULD BENEFIT FROM THIS ADVENTURE IT WILL BE THE JAPANESE. Very, very bad move. I hope BMW will survive this catastrophic startegic mistake.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @carfan
        [blocked]
          carfan
          • 1 Year Ago
          please stay away from personal insults...it just makes you look even more of a stupid , uneducated, uninformed person.
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
        Bruce Lee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @carfan
        lol, Toyotas might be a lot of things but unreliable is not one of them.
          carfan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Bruce Lee
          unless you were in a coma, not born yet, or just flew in from planet MORON there were sever million toyotas recalled in the past 3-4 years, there were MULTIPLE deaths (around 52) attributed to SUA, toyota paid millions in record fines for being late with their recalls ignoring public welfare and safety and billions of dollars in legal settlements. AWWW,...if to you and your toyota buddies this is something to be proud of and something worth defending , just please go on with your verbal vomit, I'm sure you'll find a few more idiots who agree with you.
          oRenj9
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Bruce Lee
          Is that so? I'm sure all of those Camry owners whose engines need to be completely rebuilt right out of warranty due to a piston manufacturing defect will be raving about the reliability of their cars.
        alistair.dillingham
        • 1 Year Ago
        @carfan
        Why? $. I bet it will make billions out of this, either will be given billions by Toyota or will make them selling this thing, or both. Otherwise, they are damned fools to dilute the brand.
      adam1keith1980
      • 1 Year Ago
      I hope BMW will learn about Toyota's reliability and low cost of ownership.
      WhiteNoma
      • 1 Year Ago
      You all remember the trouble America was in the last time Germans and Japanese created an alliance.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        Jmaister
        • 1 Year Ago
        mediocre cars? you know BMW is plagued, plagued with reliability problem no?
        jason32379
        • 1 Year Ago
        Who can afford not to? I'm not clear on how your last sentence fits in anywhere. Last time I checked, BMW and Toyota were flush with cash.
      Mr.Krinkle
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Feasibility study...concept...?" Translation for BMW: "We'll teach you how to make a sports car...and watch you bungle it. You give us your hybrid technology...your golden egg...and we'll make anything Lexus would do with it look like you strapped a Dyson to an LS"
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mr.Krinkle
        [blocked]
        Mr.Krinkle
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mr.Krinkle
        That's one car. Whoops... You must have a crystal ball. New IS isn't even on the streets yet. I see you're a fanboi first and an enthusiast second. Whoops.
          Bruce Lee
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Mr.Krinkle
          The new IS isn't on the street yet but it's already been driven in pre-production form and most people say it's more aggressive than the new 3 (which was softened down vs the previous generation).
          Frisky_Dingo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Mr.Krinkle
          Please. All of BMW's latest offering are criticized for being soft and rather unengaging. The only two really cars BMW has ever been revered for are the 3 and 5 series. And they've obviously- how did you put it?? Oh, yes- bungled them. The new 5 is a boat, and the new 3 gets beat by even the C Class. Early reviews point to the IS as being a better driver's car than 3 series. Sorry you can't handle that. Previous BMW owner, btw ; )
        Frisky_Dingo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mr.Krinkle
        Yeah, that's why the new 5 series gets beat in comparos by the new GS, just as the 3 will beat out by the new IS. Whoops.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      The last time there was a big German and Japanese collaboration, it didn't end so well. ;-)
      styxmiko
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just can't see what toyota has to offer that BMW didn't already do better or will be doing in the near future without the risk of being ridiculed for being in any technological "exchange" with these japanese. I firmly believe that this will end up as a bitter and expensive lesson for BMW not to get involved with these people again EVER!!!! in Good luck to BMW surviving this stupid move w/o damaging its reputation.
      FIDTRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Judging by what the new IS looks like, if the two companies co-develop a sports car, let's leave the styling to BMW.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm glad to see the photo does its bit to dispel the stereotype of tall Germans and short Japanese. Who is standing where? :-)
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DaveMart
        [blocked]
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          The long and short of it is, probably! I have no idea. I don't listen to myself.
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