GM, BMW, DaimlerChrysler launch hybrid partnership

GM, BMW, DaimlerChrysler launch hybrid partnership


Better late than never. That’s the philosophy for GM, BMW, and DaimlerChrysler, at least on hybrids.

The three big automakers are getting into the gas-electric powertrain technology game, spending a collective US$1 billion in a joint effort in the next few years. It’s an odd sort of collaboration in that the bulk of the effort will be done at a single GM plant. The GM automatic transmission model will be the test case, and the goal is nothing less than catching up to and surpassing Toyota, the industry leader.

Plans at the moment call for a jointly produced hybrid Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon as early as late next year, with a Dodge Durango to follow in 2008. (The adaptations would be transported to a Mercedes model sometime after that.)

So that’s two of the Big Three U.S. automakers are now on the hybrid bandwagon. What about Ford? Well, they have their own deal going, as they often do, planning hybrid Fusions and Mercury Milans by 2008. Whether they join this new partnership remains to be seen.

The fact that all these automakers are willing to fork over tons of money to invest in new-generation auto technology is definitely encouraging. I was beginning to wonder if Toyota would corner that market as well. Especially with the advent of millions of new drivers in China, the nagging problem of diminishing oil supplies is only going to accelerate.