2014 Ford F-150 Tremor
Sometimes the most significant divorces are handled in the most minimalist way.
So it was with a brief press statement from Toyota today, noting that after completing a "feasibility study" that took almost two years, the two companies have chosen not to pursue a collaboration on hybrid powertrains for large pickup trucks.
The two companies, each with a decade or more of experience in building hybrid vehicles, said that they had agreed to "develop hybrid systems individually."
It's an amicable split; the two will continue to work together on "next-generation standards for telematics," as well as promising to "consider other areas for future collaboration as well."
Announced in August 2011, the Toyota-Ford hybrid collaboration was just one of several among automakers on different and increasingly expensive powertrain components to boost fuel efficiency.
Toyota said that December it planned a Tundra Hybrid full-size pickup truck, though little more has been heard about that project.
Ford: going it alone
Ford, meanwhile, said in its own release that it would move forward with a rear-wheel-drive hybrid system for its pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles on its own.
The hybrid system for trucks will consist of an "all-new architecture" that can provide "the capability truck and SUV customers demand" while boosting gas mileage.
“We know what it takes to build world-class hybrids," said Raj Nair, Ford's group VP of global product development, "and we now will build and leverage that expertise in-house.”
Such a system will be available "by the end of this decade," which gives the company considerable leeway during a period in which fuel-efficiency requirements will steadily tighten.
Toyota leads, Ford third
While Toyota is by far the global industry's hybrid leader, having sold more than 5 million hybrids since 1997, Ford is third (after Honda) in total hybrid sales over the same period.
When the collaboration was announced, General Motors still offered a hybrid pickup truck for sale as the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid and the GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid.
With the advent of a new generation of large GM pickup trucks, those models are now gone--and the related hybrid sport-utility vehicles are likely to vanish as well when those vehicles are renewed next year.
Meanwhile, Ford has had unexpected success selling its 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine in its F-150 series of pickups, while Chrysler launched a 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel pickup truck with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6.
These two approaches to boosting the fuel efficiency of large pickups may reduce the immediate need to develop hybrid pickups in the near term.