Toyota is looking to share its hybrid drivetrains with other automakers in an effort to recoup some of its research and development expenditures, reports Automotive News.
Toyota has long been at the forefront of gasoline-hybrid technology, and has thus invested heavily into hybrid drivetrain research and development over the years.
The Japanese brand’s R&D costs have been steadily growing; last year Toyota spent $9 billion USD ($12 million CAD) on R&D, an increase of 73 percent since 2010.
As competition in the automotive market tightens, brands are forced to develop more technologically advanced vehicles with greater development costs, all whilst trying to limit increases in sticker prices.
By selling “turn-key” drivetrain solutions to competitors, Toyota can widely monetize its proprietary technology without spilling sensitive technology secrets.
“It could be a win-win for Toyota and its rivals because Toyota could develop another sales line, while customers could gain access to components which may be cheaper and of higher quality than the same parts developed in-house,” said Takeshi Miyao, managing director at automotive consultancy firm Carnorama.
Toyota has a tradition of developing parts for its drivetrain systems in close collaboration with suppliers. The resulting parts have been exclusive to Toyota drivetrains, giving the brand a competitive advantage in terms of quality and performance—but the Toyota-specific engineering parameters of these parts have rendered them useless to other automakers as they either don’t physically fit, or are of a different voltage requirement, or some other specification.
By selling complete powertrain modules, the issue of selling incompatible parts to third parties is negated.
“Toyota suppliers produce a lot of technology which can only be used by Toyota,” said Toshiyuki Mizushima, president of Toyota’s powertrain company.
“We want to change that to a system where we develop technology with our suppliers at an earlier stage … so they can make that technology available to non-Toyota customers.”