Toyota Plans Hybrid Pickup, Upset Over Ford Collaboration
Auto shows, like the recent one – the 2015 L.A. show – are great places to look at new products and upgrades to existing ones. They are also great places to pick up gossip between automakers like Toyota being pissed at Ford over a failed hybrid collaboration. Like really pissed.
The story, as reported on AutoNews.com, has Toyota’s Koei Saga, senior managing officer in charge of Toyota’s powertrain division, suggesting Ford milked the 2011 partnership for all of Toyota’s hybrid information before abruptly pulling the plug.
“Because we proposed everything,” Saga said to AutoNews.com. “Well, I don’t know whether they stole, but we proposed all the technologies we had. It even went as far as the drawings.
Technologically, we went far, and the engineers of both companies agreed that that technology was good enough to do it. “But ultimately, the Ford management made a decision, and it fell apart. I really regret it, and I’m very sorry.”
Ford’s spokesman Said Deep says it wasn’t like that. Ford discovered through a feasibility study their hybrid technology was better suited for trucks and SUVs than Toyota’s hybrid technology. Deep went on to say they plan on having a hybrid truck on the market by 2020 and they have 150 patents related to its system and another 230 pending, according to AutoNews.com.
No matter which side you believe was ultimately right or wrong, the hubbub over a hybrid truck is pretty significant. Frankly, even though Toyota fans clamor for a diesel truck, a hybrid Toyota is much, MUCH more likely. Why? Corporate Average Fuel Economy.
For better or worse (and sometimes it is MUCH worse), CAFE is a driving force in the automotive industry. Toyota and other automakers get this. In order to meet escalating fuel economy requirements, you really only have a few choices:
- Lightweight the truck (aluminum and high-strength steel)
- Add turbocharged engines
- Introduce a hybrid truck
The first option is the current trend. It seems like every new truck on the market is either getting an aluminum hood, tailgate or body panels. Also, high-strength steel is written, spoken and alluded to on some many new truck press releases and new produce reveals, you could play literally play buzzword bingo with that term. While light-weighting the truck sounds great, it is also expensive. Finding innovative ways to recycle the materials (see: Ford) or dropping features to pay for the high-strength steel (see: Toyota), seems to be the two courses. In my view, neither are complete solutions, just a part of it.
Secondly, turbocharged engines make a lot of sense for fuel economy. As I have written on this site several times about Toyota working on turbocharged engines.
The third option is a hybrid truck. Now, this makes even more sense IF (and it is a big IF), the hybrid truck can provide similar capability with better fuel economy and a nominal price increase. Getting these three factors right is a tough task and has been difficult to achieve (see: now dead Chevy Silverado hybrid).
However, if there is one company that I believe can get it right, it is Toyota. They have been working on hybrid technology for years and have a tons of consumer knowledge gained through their Prius lineup. In fact, this technology is so good, it is a no-brainer to opt for the hybrid over the gas version with most of their products. If you don’t believe me, go drive a Lexus ES300h.
In the end, we are still a few years out from a major announcement. While Ford may try to hit the 2020 mark, you have to know Toyota isn’t announcing anything until ALL the bugs have been worked out. This puts us around 5 years out.
What do you think? Does a hybrid make any sense?
Filed Under: Tundra News