Ford-Toyota Joint Hybrid Truck Collaboration Is Over
Jason Lancaster | Jul 23, 2013 | Comments 8
Ford and Toyota have announced that they will no longer be collaborating on a joint venture to produce a hybrid powertrain for the Tundra and F-150. While Ford has told the Chicago Tribune that they intend to continue to develop a hybrid powertrain for the F-150 (and other RWD vehicles) on their own, Toyota’s official statement on the matter has made no such promises.
Basically, the Tundra hybrid is dead, but the F-150 hybrid lives (for now).
Why Cancel The Agreement?
When I first reported this hybrid joint venture in August, 2011, it was my feeling that Ford had “won” this particular deal. I felt that Ford would be able to dip into Toyota’s considerable hybrid know-how without penalty, as it seemed unlikely that Toyota could really leverage Ford’s truck expertise. The reason? It’s hard to convince loyal domestic truck owners to switch, even if you sell a superior truck.
Therefore, I presumed Toyota was providing know-how while Ford was providing capital. It was a win-win, but only if you look at the short-term. Providing your competitors with better technology isn’t a good long-term strategy.
However, a few things have changed since the collaboration was announced in 2011:
- Ford’s ability to produce and sell a viable hybrid vehicle on their own has improved – the success of Ford’s C-Max demonstrates that.
- Toyota has seen their market share rebound to pre “unintended acceleration” levels very quickly – perhaps faster than anyone in Japan thought possible. Thus, cash flow isn’t nearly as much of a concern as it was in 2011.
- Toyota has thrown in the towel on competing with Ford head-to-head, as the 2014 Tundra is being billed as a reliable and capable lux-truck, rather than a do-everything workhorse.
- Toyota has announced plans to produce an affordable fuel cell vehicle in the next 2 years.
The writing on the wall would seem to be that Ford doesn’t think they need Toyota’s help to build a hybrid truck.
This all but certainly means the Tundra hybrid is dead – again – as it seems unlikely Toyota can research and design a hybrid powertrain for the Tundra profitably (Tundra’s sales volumes are just too low). However…
Keep Your Eye On Toyota’s Fuel Cell Technology
Here’s a pop quiz for all you truck fans. Assuming costs are the same, would you rather?
- Buy a gasoline hybrid truck that only gets about 20% better gas mileage, but with 30% less towing/hauling ability or
- Buy a fuel cell electric truck that costs $20 to fill up, drives just as far as your gas engine truck (and fills up at gas stations with hydrogen pumps), pulls harder than a diesel (electric motors offer unlimited torque), and tows/hauls just as much as a gas engine?
It’s number 2, right? Obviously. Who wouldn’t want a fuel cell powered pickup over a hybrid…provided of course you could buy one for a reasonable price. That “reasonable price” qualifier has always been the problem with hydrogen fuel cells.
Yet Toyota believes they’ve discovered a formula for building affordable hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. They’re going to start selling a mid-sized sedan in 2015 that’s less than the Tesla Model S, has a greater driving range (300-400 miles), and – just like a Tesla – qualifies for massive tax credits.
If we remember the 1999 Prius, it took a little less than 10 years for gasoline-hybrids to become cost-competitive, mainstream vehicles. If Toyota brings out a viable fuel cell in 2015, you could be driving an affordable electric Tundra that runs on hydrogen by 2025.
Here’s to hoping.
Filed Under: Auto News
I like forward to seeing what they can do with fuel cells.
I don’t care what any company call their engine but as long as it is 100% fossil fuel powered it is not eco to me.
AD, you are right on the mark.
People seem to think they just go to the hydrogen station and fill up without any though about where the stuff comes from. Affordable Fuel cell technology is very far off.
We still need the source for the hydrogen and that is going to be oil, gas, nuk or coal. Doesn’t look all that “green” to me. The same for the electric car. The electricity for the recharge comes from some fuel source and it isn’t wind power.
Larry – I think the graphic I posted from Toyota is misleading, at least as far as my intent is concerned.
I don’t see fuel cells as particularly “green” or “eco-friendly” technology – and didn’t mention them as such in the article. However, I *do* see them as:
– More affordable than gasoline or diesel engines (at least long-term)
– More energy independent than gasoline or diesel engines
If the initial cost of a fuel cell stack can be brought down to levels somewhat comparable to a diesel or gas-electric hybrid, I expect fuel cells will explode in popularity. I’d much rather drive on hydrogen sourced from domestic natural gas than Venezuelan or Saudi oil. I also like the idea of an engine with no moving parts, lower operating costs, and the unlimited torque thing sounds good too.
Throw in a generous tax credit (and we’ll get those, at least for a while) and I’m officially a fan. WAY better than a Tesla or Nissan Leaf.
I’m really interested to see where this goes. It seems the industry has been at a tipping point for the last 5 or so years with implementation of some of these cool new engine technologies, such as mass produced EVs and hybrids, Ecoboost, etc, and it’s only going to be a matter of time before something really revolutionary comes to market. Within 20 years I’m sure we’ll all find it asinine that we spent so much time relying on internal combustion technology.
the key for most is cost. I’m not spending too much more (maybe 2-3 grand tops if that) on a hybrid or whatever you want to call it over a traditional gas engine. That is why I bought a corolla at 16.3K over a prius at the time costing 23K. Just takes too long to make up the benefit of using a hybrid.
mk – Absolutely correct. If the fuel cell stack adds $20k to the sticker price, it’s going to have to earn back really fast or it’s not going to sell in volume.
But, if you knock that down to $10k, I think the allure of $20 fill-ups, reduced maintenance (no more oil changes or air filters), no more buying gasoline or diesel that’s derived from foreign oil, and zero emissions tax credits (assuming those are around for a while) get’s it done.
But who knows…it’s very early to get excited. 😉
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I like the idea Jason. Maybe this is what is on Toyota’s mind for a hybrid and letting Ford take off with what they think they got. After reading about a man in Canada buying a $67k sticker King Ranch Ford eco boost and he blew two engines already under 12k miles. Ford will have issues.