Rumors are floating around in Tokyo that Toyota and BMW are about to enter an agreement where Toyota will provide its fuel cell technology to the Bavarian maker. The Nikkei [sub] says BMW plans to build a hydrogen prototype by 2015, and wants to have a hydrogen car ready for market by 2020. Other carmakers, Toyota included, plan a limited market release in the “hydrogen year” 2015, with hopes for volume production by 2020.
Toyota spokesfolk did not want to comment, then sent out an invitation for a press conference tomorrow, Thursday, in Nagoya. BMW also happens to be there. Looking at the executives in attendance, it does not appear like a meeting where joint windshield wiper procurement is discussed: On the BMW side will be Klaus Fröhlich, Strategy SVP at BMW and chief ideologue, along with development chief Dr. Herbert Diess. The Toyota side will be similarly high tech-laden with Toyota’s “father of the Prius” Takeshi Uchiyamada in attendance. Yasumori Ihara will represent Toyota Purchasing and the board. TTAC will also be there.
The move does not come as a surprise to us. Last June, we told you that “BMW will get access to Toyota’s fuel cell technologies” and that this will be “the end of the fuel cell cooperation between BMW and GM.” We told you that Toyota is far ahead with the technology. TTAC even had a short hydrogen-powered test ride through the scenic warehouse landscape of Torrance, CA. We told you that current fuel cell technology is big, bulky, heavy and expensive, and that Toyota is working on bringing package size and price down to tolerable levels. We’ll know more tomorrow.