Sometimes, even sworn enemies find a reason to team up. Ford and Toyota routinely slug it out over market share, but the two automotive titans are reportedly working on a joint project. An upcoming Ford F-150 hybrid pickup truck could feature Toyota technology.
“We’re working with [Toyota] and developing plans,” Ford director-electrification programs and engineering Kevin Layden told WardsAuto. Layden said the F-150 hybrid is an important project for Ford.
Engineers from both companies will work together at Ford’s Advanced Electrification Center. Layden said it was important to get everyone in the same room to tackle the technical challengers of building a hybrid pickup.
Towing puts more stress on a vehicle’s components so, just like conventional truck powertrains, the Ford-Toyota hybrid system will have to be beefier than the ones found in Fusions and Priuses.
Engineers won’t be able to take advantage of an aerodynamic body, either. A truck can never be as aerodynamic as a passenger car and, since Ford will probably retrofit the system to the current F-150, aerodynamic aids like grille shutters and diffusers will have to be modified to fit the existing design.
If the F-150 hybrid proves successful, applying the system to other vehicles isn’t out of the question. A hybrid version of an SUV, like Ford’s full-size Expedition, would make sense. Since Toyota is in on the project, it wouldn’t be surprising if the company built a hybrid Tundra pickup or Sequoia SUV.
Of course, the F-150 and Tundra hybrids could poach sales from each other. However, that didn’t stop Toyota from letting Nissan borrow its hybrid technology for the 2007-2012 Altima hybrid, while competing against the Nissan with its own Camry hybrid.
Besides Toyota, the F-150 hybrid will have few rivals. General Motors currently offers hyrbid versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra twins. The GM trucks use two electric motors and a 300-volt nickel-metal hydride battery coupled to a 6.0-liter V8 with cylinder deactivation. They return 20 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, only slightly more than the most efficient F-150, which returns 17/23 mpg.
GM also offers its hybrid system on the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade SUVs.
The bar for hybrid trucks is not very high, and Ford and Toyota might just be the right team to raise it. The F-150 has been the best selling vehicle in America for decades, and the Prius is the car that made hybrids attractive. The two companies have the perfect combination of expertise to make the pickup truck green.