During the conference, both BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer and Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda reaffirmed their company’s four mutual commitments. Those commitments are for joint development of a fuel cell system, collaboration on powertrain electrification, joint research in lightweight technology and of course a future sports car.
Both Toyoda and Reithofer seemed jovial during the conference and repeatedly referred to performance vehicles though neither nailed anything specific down. Near the end of his speech, Toyoda spoke of sports cars and hinted at something “environmentally friendly and exciting,” before passing the podium to Reithofer.
At that point, Reithofer reiterated the brand’s joint plans before jokingly referring to a sports car as well. He said BMW would insist on maintaining its brand identity, but that it and Toyota will work together in researching and exploring future lightweight technology and automotive architecture.
What does this mean for the future? We can look forward to new developments in hybrid technology that will likely yield better range and faster charging times than either brand can currently offer. We can also look forward to fuel efficiency gains by both brands, though that isn’t surprising.
Reithofer spoke of “iconic change” and said that hybrid vehicles were key to sustainable personal transportation, saying this is the “most decisive moment the industry has ever faced.”
There doesn’t seem to be any disagreement from either side as Toyoda spoke of mutual respect between the brands. However, with the Scion FR-S recently launched and BMW already well stocked in the performance car segment, it’s hard to imagine either brand collaborating on something mundane. Instead, it seems more likely that the two will work together in building something that can compete with their mutual enemy: the upcoming Acura NSX hybrid. And of course, there are numerous other new alternative powerplant exotics coming from the likes of Audi, Mercedes and Infiniti.
“Toyota is strong in environment-friendly hybrids and fuel cells,” Toyoda said. “I believe BMW’s strength is developing sports cars. I get so excited thinking about the cars that will result from this relationship.”