Toyota And BMW Edge Closer

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
toyota and bmw edge closer

Today, Germany’s Spiegel Magazin reports what we suspected since last December: “BMW and Toyota edge closer.” Both, says the magazine, will “enter a close partnership that transcends the projects that were agreed in the past.”

Last December, Toyota and BMW announced “a long-term technological partnership.” Ostensibly, it was about developing batteries together, and about BMW supplying diesel engines. In March, the happy couple announced that they indeed are developing batteries, and that BMW indeed will supply diesel engines.

Toyota’s people in Europe had complained that one of the reasons for Toyota’s measly sales in Europe is the lack of diesel mills. Around half of the cars sold in Europe are oil burners. Hybrid-happy does not have the bandwidth to tinker with its own diesel engine and will buy them instead from BMW.

For hybrids and EVs, BMW currently has another alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen. That alliance is said to be coming apart. PSA is short of money, and it entered a partnership with GM, BMW wants out. “Toyota is a leader in hybrid technology,” writes Der Spiegel, “in contrast to the financially underpowered French, Toyota has money to invest into new technologies.”

BMW needs a strong partner. Investments in new technologies need high volumes for a return in an appreciable time. BMW, or for that matter Daimler, don’t have that volume. Only a mass market manufacturer can provide that scale. Daimler cozied-up to Nissan and Renault, BMW cozies-up to Toyota.

In the new “broadened partnership” Toyota will supply hybrid systems and fuel cell technology to BMW, The Nikkei [sub] heard over the weekend. Supposedly, an announcement will come within the next days.

Toyota spokesfolk in Tokyo maintain strict radio silence when it comes to that matter, saying that they currently have nothing to say. When something is bunk, they usually say so. Toyota invited the crème of international business reporters on a plant tour in Tsutsumi on July 3rd to show how the plant deals with anticipated power shortages. It would be a handy occasion for a surprise appearance of Herr Reithofer and Toyoda-san. Just thinking …

What will BMW offer in return? The talk in Tokyo is that the Bavarians proposed to share their expertise in developing carbon fiber bodies. BMW is heavily invested in industry leader SGL Carbon. Volkswagen also bought shares. However, says the scuttlebutt, Toyota feigned disinterest, saying that it already had developed significant carbon fiber expertise in-house. Toyota has been doing carbon fiber research for nearly ten years. The Lexus LFA supercar is made from 65 percent carbon fiber and 35 percent aluminum.

However, there are many unanswered questions in the carbon fiber business, notably how to produce CFRP bodies quickly and therefore at low cost.

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  • Expresstoyota Expresstoyota on Jun 26, 2012

    There is no other competitor who can compete with BMW...

  • Tedward Tedward on Jun 26, 2012

    Good luck BMW. It's pretty well shown that some companies don't play well with others. Ford, for instance, is death on luxury brands. GM is world-infamous for breaking every toy in the sandbox. Toyota, well...they might be ok but the signs aren't good when you look at the timing on Subaru's recent styling and materials downgrades.

  • Lou_BC this link shows number of units waiting to be sold: are 7630 Renegades rusting on dealer lots. 7 of the 9 on the list are Stellantis products. The Chevy 4500 chassis cab high inventory reflects what I see in my world. Ford and Ram have the chassis cab market well in hand.
  • MaintenanceCosts We need a system to get unsafe hoopties off the road. But the existing state inspection systems relying on corruptible private garages ain't it. It needs to be federally overseen, consistent, and cheap.
  • Paul Like an electric Duesenberg SJ, a vehicle not fit for the economic times it was born into. When the general public is upside down and 30 days late on an 84-month loan at 22.9% on their Kia Rio, this doesn't seem to be the answer to a question most people are asking.
  • Drnoose Since they are going to still hit you with the fee anyway, it will not make that big of a difference.
  • Steven in Queens I've driven both the Renegade and Compass in rental/fleet situations and they seemed really close in size and they're similarly priced as well. I thought both felt cheap and unimpressive. Must be tough for dealers to offload one over the other unless a customer really has an appearance preference.