Thursday 24 January 2013

Road - Collaboration

The cost of progress in automotive terms is huge these days. It’s not just the R&D costs themselves, but the need to address longevity, reliability and of course safety. All that takes billions of Euros or Dollars, or a helluva big credit card. A bank loan wouldn’t work either, think of the ppi payments!

So the news that BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) are strengthening their existing co-operation comes as no surprise. The aims of this latest agreement are the joint development of a fuel cell system, joint development of architecture and components for a sports vehicle, and joint research and development of lightweight technologies.

Another area of collaborative research will concern lithium-air batteries, a post-lithium-battery solution. This agreement marks the second phase of collaborative research into next-generation lithium-ion battery cells that commenced in March 2012.

Both companies are to share their technologies and will jointly develop a fuel-cell vehicle system, including a fuel cell stack and system, plus hydrogen tank, motor and battery, aiming for completion in 2020. They also have plans to develop a lithium-air battery with energy density greatly exceeding that of current lithium-ion batteries.

Laudable though these are, of more concern to regular readers is the sporting potential of what they are up to. Both companies have an established record of success in the world of motor sport, and that has not been overlooked in this agreement.

The companies are setting-up a feasibility study to define a joint platform concept for a mid-size sports vehicle that is to be completed by the end of 2013, and have promised further collaboration in the field of sports vehicle development.

As part of this plan the companies intend to jointly develop lightweight technologies for vehicle bodies using advanced materials such as reinforced composites to develop a sports-vehicle platform as well as other BMW and Toyota vehicles.

Now if that doesn’t tingle your taste buds, think on this – M Sport meets Toyota GT86.

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