Ford Motor Company and Toyota Motor Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the two automakers collaborate on the development of a new advanced hybrid system for use in rear-wheel-drive light trucks and SUVs as well as to create next-generation standards for in-car telematics and Internet-based services. Under terms of the MOU, which is expected to become a formal agreement by next year, Ford and Toyota will work as equal partners to see the projects through to completion and have both installed in production vehicles "arriving later this decade."

According to the official joint statement, the new hybrid system will share "significant common technology and components," although each company will individually integrate the package into their own respective vehicles and determine individual calibration and performance dynamics characteristics for each application. Executives from both organizations felt confident that cooperation in this arena will pay significant dividends for all concerned-especially in helping boost critical CAFE figures for their popular rear-drive pickup trucks.

"This agreement brings together the capability of two global leaders in hybrid vehicles and hybrid technology to develop a better solution more quickly and affordably for our customers," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. "Ford achieved a breakthrough with the Ford Fusion Hybrid, and we intend to do this again for a new group of truck and SUV buyers -- customers we know very well."

Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota executive vice president, Research & Development, observed: "In 1997, we launched the first-generation Prius, the world's first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid. Since then, we have sold about 3.3 million hybrid vehicles. We expect to create exciting technologies that benefit society with Ford -- and we can do so through the experience the two companies have in hybrid technology."

Kuzak and Uchiyamada expressed similar optimism about the results of   pooling their expansive talents to create standards and technologies for next-gen telematics, which will focus on delivering safer, more secure and even more user-friendly in-car experiences. Here, too, that cooperative effort will have distinct brand-specific implementations. Each company will continue to operate independently with respect to developing its own in-vehicle products and features.

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