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Expecting A BMW-Engined Toyota Or BMWs With Toyota Hybrids? You Shouldn’t

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The 2012 Toyota Prius. Image: Toyota

The 2012 Toyota Prius. Image: Toyota

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Earlier today, our sister site MotorAuthority covered a story detailing a new green-engine partnership between BMW and Toyota for European-built BMW and Toyota cars. 

But while the partnership will give Toyota full access to BMW’s range of clean diesel engines and give BMW the chance to use Toyota’s industry-leading hybrid drivetrain technology, we don’t expect to see the partnership extend to include U.S. market cars...yet. 

Here’s why.  

Diesels share a small proportion of the total new car market

While BMW currently offers two clean diesel models for the U.S. market, clean diesels account for around 3 percent of all new car sales nationwide -- but only when you add in sales of light duty trucks. Hybrid cars account for another 3 percent. 

In Europe, where the deal between Toyota and BMW is centered, clean diesel cars represent around half of all new car sales.  And in Europe, BMW is among market leaders in clean-diesel technology. 

As a consequence, it makes sense for Toyota to work with BMW to benefit from its clean diesel technology to enable it to compete effectively in the diesel segment.  

2011 BMW 335d sedan

2011 BMW 335d sedan

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BMW has already developed hybrid drivetrains for the U.S. market

Over the past few years, BMW and Daimler have worked together to develop hybrid drivetrains. The first product of this collaboration -- and the first BMW hybrid -- was the BMW ActiveHybrid 7. Based on a single motor mild hybrid system, it offered 7-Series drivers an EPA-rated combined fuel economy of 20 mpg.

Since then, BMW and Daimler have gone on to refine the mild-hybrid system into a more powerful single-motor hybrid drivetrain capable of providing electric-only running at speeds under 37 miles per hour, or giving an all-electric range of 2.5 miles at 22 miles per hour. Itself developed from 

Introduced in BMW’s 2012 ActiveHybrid 5, the system is also found in the 2013 BMW 3-Series ActiveHybrid 3. Due to be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January, the ActiveHybrid 3 will go on sale in the U.S. in the second half of 2012. 

Toyota leads the market for hybrid cars in the U.S. 

2012 Toyota Prius V station wagon, Half Moon Bay, CA, May 2011

2012 Toyota Prius V station wagon, Half Moon Bay, CA, May 2011

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While Toyota and BMW both stand to benefit from the partnership in Europe, due to the 50 percent market penetration of diesel engines and lower market penetration of hybrids, Toyota’s position as hybrid market leader in the U.S. means it really doesn’t need to work with any other company on hybrid technology. 

In fact, the trio of 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, 2012 Toyota Prius and 2012 Toyota Prius V cater to such a wide portion of the green car market that we recently named the 2012 Toyota Prius the Best Car To Buy in 2012

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