Turns out the rumors were true — it was announced today that BMW & Toyota have agreed to form a technology partnership:
…the two companies agreed on a collaborative research in the field of next-generation lithium-ion battery technologies. Furthermore, they have agreed to identify and discuss other possible collaborative projects.
In addition, Toyota Motor Europe (TME), TMC’s European subsidiary, and BMW have entered into a contract under which BMW is to supply 1.6 liter and 2.0 liter diesel engines to TME starting in 2014. The engines will be installed in certain Toyota-produced vehicles planned for sale in the European market. Through this agreement, Toyota plans to expand its European lineup and sales of fuel-efficient, low CO2-emission diesel-powered vehicles.
Long term, the research and development of lithium-ion battery technology is going to be very important for both brands, but the more immediate benefit for Toyota (& Lexus) is access to BMW’s 1.6L & 2.0L diesel engines.
Here’s what Toyota Europe president Didier Leroy had to say at the joint press conference:
Engineering work is already underway, but we will begin to take supply of the first engines in 2014. And while we are not prepared yet to share with you which models will get the engines, I can say we will be focusing on locally produced products.
With the explicit mention of locally produced products (like the Toyota Yaris, Auris, Avensis and Corolla, which are all built in European manufacturing plants), it makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing a BMW-powered Lexus happening in the near future — still, it’s the early days, and it’s likely even Toyota & BMW don’t know exactly how things will unfold. Very interesting times ahead.
(For anyone unfamiliar with European engine options, BMW uses a 1.6L diesel in the Mini and 1-series, and 2.0L diesel engines in the 1-series, 3-series & 5-series, among other models.)
Update: Just wanted to share this article from the BBC, which is a nice look at what this partnership means to both companies.