Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation and Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, met in Munich yesterday to announce an agreement with significance not just for the two companies but potentially for the automotive industry as a whole.
They signed a Memorandum of Understanding for long-term strategic collaboration in four fields: joint development of a fuel cell system, collaboration on powertrain electrification, joint research and development on lightweight technologies and joint development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle.
The two also confirmed their shared intention to strengthen the long-term, strategic collaboration between the two companies.
Reithofer said: "Toyota and the BMW Group share the same strategic vision of sustainable individual future mobility. Together we have a great opportunity to continue leading our industry through this transformation."
Toyoda added: "Toyota is strong in environment-friendly hybrids and fuel cells. On the other hand, I believe BMW's strength is in developing sports cars. I am excited to think of the cars that will result from this relationship."
BMW had been in discussion with General Motors on plans for cooperation on fuel-cell development, but those talks have reportedly been terminated.
BMW is also said to be reconsidering a technical tie-up it has with Peugeot, given that company's recent alliance with GM.
BMW and Toyota signed an agreement In March of this year on collaborative research in next-generation lithium-ion battery cells. In addition, the BMW has previously contracted with Toyota to supply the brand with 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre diesel engines for use in European Toyota, beginning in 2014.
The combined potential of the collaboration between these two industry heavyweights, each with its own realm of expertise, can only be seen as bad news for their mutual competitors.