What happens when the world’s leading seller of pickup trucks teams up with the world’s leader in hybrid technology? Well, nothing, apparently. Ford and Toyota have ended their partnership to produce a hybrid system for pickups. According to senior managing officer in charge of Toyota’s powertrain division, Koei Saga, the relationship between the two companies progressed quite far – even to the point of engineered drawings – but Ford backed out claiming it has a hybrid system of its own that is better suited for use in rear-wheel-drive pickups. Toyota feels Ford may have taken advantage of the relationship by gaining knowledge of hybrid technologies before severing ties.
“Because we proposed everything,” Saga said. “Well, I don’t know whether they stole, but we proposed all the technologies we had. It even went as far as the drawings.” He also added, “Technologically, we went far, and the engineers of both companies agreed that that technology was good enough to do it. But ultimately, the Ford management made a decision, and it fell apart. I really regret it, and I’m very sorry.”
This is not the first time hybrid pickups have come into the limelight. Chevrolet produced a hybrid Silverado that was discontinued in 2011 due to meager sales. But with increasingly strict mpg standards truck manufacturers are once again looking for ways to decrease their fleet mileage figures. Pickups are a tricky bunch to hybridize, however, since the traditional pickup truck buyer is more concerned with ruggedness than fuel economy. Hybrid systems also add a lot of weight to a vehicle, mostly from the batteries, so mating one to an already hefty truck can be counterproductive. Another obstacle in today’s market is ultra-low gas prices. Although an eventual rise in fuel costs is a sure bet, auto buyers have been known to make long-term vehicle decisions based on current gas prices.
Ford claims to have its own hybrid pickup available by 2020. No word yet from Toyota on plans to add a hybrid system to the Tacoma or Tundra but we wouldn’t expect them to be far behind. Until hybrid trucks become a reality, we expect to see more examples of turbocharged V6s hitting the market in the place of V8s. One such example is the Ford F-150 2.7L EcoBoost… TFL’s fastest-ever-tested 0-60 mph pickup. Check out the video below of said F-150 taking on the Ike Gauntlet Towing Test and stay tuned for this year’s round of Ike Gauntlet Tests to start soon!