The world's second-biggest car maker, Toyota, has confirmed that it would be interested in a technical alliance with Ford, currently third in the global stakes.
The Japanese giant has overtaken Ford in key markets, including the United States, in recent years. Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe said it would be up to Ford to propose the idea of sharing technical information, but he added, “Both sides would have to want it.”
A tie-up between Ford and Toyota could centre around Toyota’s hybrid technology, although Watanabe also said the chances of it involving vehicles other than hybrids “was not zero”. Ford is seriously considering a plug-in hybrid in the style of the Chevrolet Volt, and it already licenses Toyota technology for its American-market hybrids.
Meanwhile, General Motors has been looking at buying into Proton, Malaysia’s state-owned car maker. Proton is in financial trouble and needs the assistance of a larger maker for access to technology. The deal could provide GM with another low-cost manufacturing facility in the Far East to complement its Korean factories. It would also give it access to Lotus, a company it owned from 1980 to 1983.