By on July 24, 2013

The honeymoon is now officially over. 2011 Ford Motor Co. photo.

Two years ago, Ford and Toyota agreed to perform a feasibility study on the two companies working together to develop a hybrid drivetrain for rear wheel drive pickups and SUVs. Apparently, working together wasn’t going to be feasible because Ford and Toyota have both issued statements announcing the end of the tie-up. Ford said that the Dearborn automaker will be developing their own hybrid system for RWD and said that the completely new hybrid architecture will be available by 2020.

Raj Nair, Ford’s global head of product development said in prepared statement:

“We know what it takes to build world-class hybrids, and we now will build and leverage that expertise in-house. By continuing to develop a rear-wheel-drive hybrid system on our own, we can extend our advanced hybrid technologies to new vehicle segments and deliver even better fuel economy across our lineup.”

On its own part, Toyota emphasized its leadership position in hybrid technology without tipping its hand regarding RWD hybrids.

Toyota’s commitment to hybrid technology is unwavering. We have sold over two million Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles in the U.S., representing 70 percent of the U.S. auto industry’s total hybrid sales, and over 5 million hybrids worldwide. In addition, Toyota remains on track to offer 18 new or redesigned hybrid models globally by the end of 2015.

Ford and Toyota will continue to work together on developing standards for the next generation of telematics. Ford and Toyota had made an earlier licensing agreement concerning the hybrid systems in the Prius and Fusion Hybrid to avoid  possible litigation over their separately developed technologies.

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24 Comments on “Ford, Toyota Joint RWD Hybrid Pickup Drivetrain Not Feasible...”

  • avatar

    Sounds like Toyota, resting on it’s laurels again. I don’t think being related to the most recalled manufacturer is what Ford had in mine.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, Toyota definitely shouldn’t have anything to do with the most recalled manufacturer of all time, the Ford Motor Company. Nor should they be involved with a company who’s hybrids don’t get anywhere near EPA numbers.

      • 0 avatar

        Toyota has held the top two spots for recalls the last couple of years. This in a time when they all share the same suppliers. Coindence that Ford wants out?

      • 0 avatar

        The Escape Hybrid certainly met mileage expectations. In mixed use, my ’09 Escape Hybrid gets just under 7L/100km in summer conditions, and about 7.2 in winter. That’s about 33-34mpg, with an AWD drivetrain, 10-year old technology and a rather unstreamlined body.

  • avatar

    I’m afraid that the feasibility failure was probably on the marketing side rather than the “can we do it” side. For whatever reason, truck buyers simply care very little about fuel economy when it comes time to put money on the table and are skeptical of anything electronically driven. The difference between a gas-only 19mpg highway doesn’t seem all that different than 21 city, 22 combined, 23 highway. What you’d actually probably see is someone averaging 17mpg in the gas only and averaging 22mpg in the hybrid. That saves 200 gallons of gas a year for the 15k/yr driver. Gas still isn’t expensive enough for that to be a substantial chunk of change for the guy dropping $40k on his new truck. Is he going to pay another $3k or $4k for a hybrid system that only saves him $800/yr in fuel (if he even bothers to do the math)? And sharing characteristics with a Prius is the last thing a truck owner wants. How will Dennis Leary make that sound tough during Cowboys v. Redskins commercial breaks?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think the problem is a hybrid truck isn’t feasible. Upcoming CAFE standards are unapproachable without it. Also unapproachable without ridiculously low air dams, tissue thin body panels, giving up V8s, and all manner of other things truck owners would be expected to (and mostly do) hate but don’t get any choice in.

      The problem is that Toyota is years and billions ahead in hybrid technology and with an auto market that’s looking much healthier than it did in 2011, healthy enough for their share of it to pay development costs on their own, why would they help a competitor take their sales?

      • 0 avatar

        Towing capacity and CVT(there, I said it). Hybrid can’t tow much now as it is.

        • 0 avatar

          I would think that a well executed hybrid system could excel in a truck application, but no one has really tried yet. Instant low end torque from the battery would be ideal for towing. Also, I do not see why Toyota HSD ‘CVT transmission’ would not translate well to trucks. It uses planetary gears and not belts. Just make those gears a little more heavy duty to handle the extra load.

          • 0 avatar

            The HSD CVT will put out even more torque than any electric motor, but they would likely have to make the gears wider/stronger and use more powerful “gearing” motors.

            What the truck buying public will think of the gears spinning up to 4000 before the boat begins to move is another story, but the Toyota CVT will get things going.

            [the volt uses an extremely similar system. I’m not sure if Toyota owns patents on the basic planetary layout or they are long since expired.]

    • 0 avatar

      @Quentin – my thoughts exactly. Just look at the failure of GM’s adn Chrysler’s hybrid trucks. Getting 20/20/20 mpg isn’t a great leap forward.

      • 0 avatar

        It seems to me that improving the fuel economy of full size pickups, because they don’t get great mileage to begin with and because they represent such a large percentage of the U.S. light vehicle fleet, would actually save a lot of gas.

        Improving the fuel economy of a pickup that gets 20 mpg by 16.66% to 23.3 mpg will save more gas per mile than improving a 30 mpg car by the same percentage to 35 mpg.

        Improving the fuel efficiency of full size pickups will save more gas than selling a 40 mpg econobox.

        • 0 avatar


          You are correct, but nobody has succeeded in selling this to the Texans who buy all the trucks.

          It is remarkable that with the average transaction price of today’s trucks being $40k, buyers don’t want to go another 10% for a more complex hybrid drivetrain that could take 5 years to break even.

          Or, conversely, maybe Ford and Toyota figured out that a hybrid setup wouldn’t actually provide much gain.

      • 0 avatar

        What Ronnie said. Considering that those vehicles got about 13mpg city, getting 20 would be about a 50% increase in the city cycle. Even if the combined was as high as 16mpg, a hybrid average of 20 would still be a 25% increase.

        I think the approach is valid, however it’s just not very popular with consumers due to cost and perceived durability issues.

    • 0 avatar

      What would a fleet operator say to $1K/year in fuel savings? Especially if the way they really use the truck involves a lot of idling (even greater fuel savings) and the manufacturer could add a feature like 110VAC @15A for nothing?

      I figure a fleet operator would say, “What’s that going to cost me?” and, if a financial case can be made within the service life of the truck, he’ll go for it.

      I think Ford & Toyota had a pretty aggressive cost target in mind and they’re not saying they can’t do this, they’re just saying they won’t do it together.

  • avatar

    I just wish that Toyota would come out with their medium sized hybrid pickup that they exhibited a few years ago. Really think that they missed the boat on that one. I would have gladly purchased one since it was based off of the Prius hybrid system.

    • 0 avatar

      I could the new Honda Ridgleine coming out with a “loose your mancard” city truck like that.

    • 0 avatar


      ++This, this, this!

      A little sippy truck!

      Screw the mancard, all it’s ever done for me is limit my employability.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s no point in offering a truck with a Prius hybrid system, it’s far too light duty for truck use. It would be much easier to start from scratch than to try to reengineer a light duty, FWD, transverse drivetrain into a medium duty, RWD, longitudinal drivetrain.

      Further, I think the market for tiny trucks is vastly overblown (though it is easy to think this is not the case by hanging out on enthusiast sites). Most of the people who say they would buy one tomorrow mean as a third car, as the third or fourth owner, i.e. not people who will go buy them off the lot.

      • 0 avatar

        Foo.. A Prius trucklet would be plenty duty-capable for a sofa, a dresser, a bunch of leafy things from the nursery, a table saw… whatever the DIY homeowner has planned for the weekend.

        Right now the only option for this is a gas-sucking minivan that’s no longer mini.

  • avatar

    If my historical reference is correct, it would not be the first time that Ford and Toyota try to work together on something and give up on the idea after an initial study. Back in the early eighties, when Toyota was considering starting manufacturing in the US with a partner, it first discussed with Ford (who had an assembly plant in Milpitas, California — now a shopping mall) but I heard the talks broke off over the product to jointly build there. Toyota turned around and asked another American OEM, GM — and the rest is history: the two collaborated successfully for over 25 years up the street at NUMMI in Fremont, California. That JV is now dissolved (following GM’s bankruptcy filing a few years back) but the plant lives on — it’s where Tesla is manufacturing its Model S (and hopefully many more to come). Always good to keep manufacturing going.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    Our operation has 2 regular size less than 10 year old PUs. Neither drives more than 40 miles a day around the city of Phoenix. I suggested to management that one of the PUs could be replaced with a Ford Transit (easier to drive, load, and covers the load) but I didn’t push very hard because the Transit also gets poor mileage.

    When is Ford going to build an electric Transit? When is Nissan going to build a Leaf with a flat open low bed in back? This combination would better solve our needs. Forget hybrids. Forget interiors slightly better than a prison cell, Forget gas. Forget high loading surfaces. Forget noise. Forget 10 times more moving parts.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m sending some Leaf love your way.

      The torque of an EV drivetrain would impress the diesel truck crowd, but limited range means you’re not towing that 5th wheel camper into the mountains. But for local runabout stuff a little EV truck makes sense.

  • avatar

    I think a more feasible plan, that would actually have merit, is to see how big of an engine they could stick into a Prius.

    I’d like to see either fords V10 or the 7.3 diesel.

    That’s about how much sense hybrid trucks makes, and would probably sell just as well as the hybrid truck.

  • avatar
    daniel g.

    Hey guys, an idea is in my mind: make big big truck electric(Peterbilt,mack,etc),got the right electric engine power now,its know technology, the main problem is the range, you have with the load or trailer few extra wheel that can recharge on continue basis the batteries, if you think this, they can travel foverer for free, put the batteries on the flat platform of load in the back, in few years a complete fleet of rolling batteries can cross your country without the need of conection to any external electrical network, add solar panel on the roof if you want for more power in the desert.
    you got regenerative brakes: put in reverse direction, when you move the trailer you generate the electricity, if the problem its the size you have plenty.
    the problem in many cases is convince the people, test the technology, in few years the lesson learned can by apply on light truck, full size truck,etc.
    yust imagine the time you expend in maintance,recharge fuel, etc, that time is money no?

    and the other idea for the truck driver: k.e.r.s. system, a couple of buttons and the toretto name in the license plate, you get the idea.

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