Toyota (TMC) and Ford have concluded licensing agreements for hybrid system and emissions control patents.

Under the agreements, TMC hybrid system control technology patents, among a number of patents resulting from the firm's hybrid system development, have been licensed for use in Ford's own hybrid system, which is under development.

In a joint company statement Ford said it "remains committed to continuous fuel economy and emissions improvements", and that its own hybrid system will feature more than 100 unique patents. This year, the company will introduce a hybrid-electric version of the Escape [Maverick] sport-utility vehicle, which it claims will be the world's first full hybrid SUV when introduced later this summer.

TMC is arguably the world motor industry's hybrid technology leader, having launched the Prius in Japan in 1997 as the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. It has now sold more than 200,000 hybrids worldwide and has openly broadly shared its environmental technologies. In 2002, for example, TMC and Nissan Motor reached a basic agreement on the long-term, continuous transaction of hybrid systems including technical cooperation.

The statement said hybrid vehicles, which have been characterised by their environmental performance in terms of clean emissions and being low producers of CO2, are evolving in terms of driving performance and demand for them is increasing.

Ford and TMC have also concluded an agreement that covers licensing a variety of each company's emissions purification technology patents for lean-burn engines. TMC patents licensed to Ford and Ford group companies involve the NOx storage reduction three-way catalytic converter system applicable to lean-burn engines, such as direct-injection petrol engines or diesel engines.

Ford patents licensed to TMC and TMC group companies involve NOx control and direct injection spark ignition (DISI) technology.

Toyota and Ford intend to promote their environmental technologies, both in-house and by licensing them to other manufacturers, to contribute to the preservation of the global environment, the statement said.