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Ford, Toyota announce auto marriage for hybrids, SUVS

In perhaps the most overt example of the ever-changing automotive industry, Toyota and Ford Motor will collaborate to develop hybrid trucks and sport utility vehicles that will be available to the public by the end of the decade.

Two companies announced Aub. 22 they will manufacture rear-wheel drive hybrids as well as telephone, Internet and entertainment systems for the vehicles.

Ford, Toyota announce auto marriage for hybrids, SUVS 1
Ford 150 pick-up, the country's best-selling vehicle

Developing the hybrids will help each automaker meet stringent U.S. fuel economy standards, said Takeshi Uchiyamada, vice president for Toyota research and development, and Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s product development chief.

There are no plans for collaboration beyond rear-wheel drive hybrids and on-board phone, navigation and entertainment systems.

Toyota has been the world leader in hybrids (3.3 million) since it introduced the front-wheel Prius sedan in 1997.

“This is the kind of collaborative effort that is required to address the big global challenges of energy independence and environmental sustainability,” Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said in a prepared statement.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda, also in a prepared statement, said the tie-up “should also become an important building block for future mobility in the U.S.”

While Toyota has led in hybrid sales, Ford has been a leader in pickup trucks, which are predominately sold in the United States and Canada. Its F-series pickup trucks have been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. market since the 1970s.

The two companies will work on the details of a fuller agreement expected “sometime in 2012” that will lay out more specifically how they will collaborate, Kuzak said.

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