Toyota and BMW have made it official that they’ll be banding together in the name of more efficient cars.
Under an agreement signed today, the two automakers will begin researching how to make longer-lasting, better-performing, more efficient lithium-ion batteries for future electric and hybrid vehicles. Additionally, as part of the agreement, BMW will begin supplying its 1.6- and 2.0-liter diesel engines to Toyota for cars in Europe starting in 2014. BMW currently uses those engines in smaller vehicles like the Mini Cooper D and some versions of the 1, 3, and 5 Series cars.
Initially, the two automakers signed a memorandum of understanding back in December, hashing out the details until the formal agreement was reached. It makes sense for both automakers, as Toyota’s presence in Europe has room to expand due to a lack of smaller diesel engines and BMW wants to retain its top spot and the world’s biggest luxury automaker in the midst of a full assault from Audi. Audi has at its disposal much more corporate technology, however, as it shares much of its research and development and technology funding with corporate parent Volkswagen.
Both Toyota and BMW are also looking to expand their hybrid car portfolio with next generation versions of the Toyota Prius on the horizon and BMW’s i3, i8, and other electric and plug-in cars. The agreement will be for “mid- to long-term,” and will help both automakers make better use of cathodes, anodes and electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries. So expect to see the Toyota-BMW technology trickling from both companies for quite a while.