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Ford, Toyota in Hybrid SUV Deal

The U.S. automaker will use the Japanese firm's transaxle in its first gas-electric vehicle, the Escape.

March 09, 2004|John O'Dell | Times Staff Writer

Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. said Monday that they had signed a deal permitting the American automaker to use a Toyota-developed transaxle in Ford's forthcoming Escape gasoline and electric-powered hybrid sport utility vehicle.

Toyota has become the global leader in hybrid vehicles.

Its Prius, first introduced in Japan in 1997, has logged more than 153,000 sales worldwide, including about 71,000 in the U.S. since its North American debut in September 2002.

The Escape is Ford's initial entry into the hybrid market and will be the first U.S.-made hybrid. Toyota and rival Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. build the only hybrid vehicles offered on the retail market. Hybrids have become popular with consumers because they provide improved fuel economy while reducing exhaust pollutants.

Ford will combine the Toyota transaxle with a Ford-designed hybrid power system in the Escape, said Ford spokesman Said Deep. The Escape is scheduled to go on sale this summer. A transaxle is the type of transmission used in vehicles with front-wheel drive.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday March 16, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 73 words Type of Material: Correction
Ford-Toyota deal -- An article in the March 9 Business section incorrectly said a licensing agreement between Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. would enable Ford to use a Toyota-designed transaxle in upcoming Ford hybrid-powered sport utility vehicles. In fact, Ford will not purchase transaxles from Toyota. Instead, Ford has licensed some Toyota patents for gasoline- and electric-powered hybrid vehicles that will enable Ford to develop its own hybrid vehicle control systems.

Toyota's system was developed specifically for the demands of a hybrid vehicle. A hybrid constantly switches its power source between a traditional gasoline engine and an electric motor.

Toyota's deal with Ford stems from the Japanese company's ongoing drive to dominate the market for hybrid automotive technology. In September 2002 Toyota licensed its hybrid technology to Nissan Motor Co.

The first Nissan hybrid, combining Toyota's electric power system with Nissan's gasoline engine, will be a version of the 2005 Nissan Altima.

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