The Japanese automotive industry is pooling resources for the development of advanced powertrain technologies, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Eleven Japanese companies, including Toyota, Nissan, Isuzu, Suzuki, Subaru, Honda, Mitsubishi and Mazda, and local transmission manufacturers JATCO and Aisin AW, have established an organisation called Transmission Research Association for Mobility Innovation (TRAMI).

TRAMI aims to keep pace with global progress in the development of electrified powertrain technology with a particular eye on the rapid growth of China's electric powertrain industry and advanced research in Germany.

Global sales of hybrid-electric and electric vehicles are expected to grow rapidly over the next decade, led by minimum sales quotas in China and environment concerns in other markets worldwide.

TRAMI in particular will look to optimise power transmission from engines to electric motors to help improve fuel efficiency. One of the mentioned areas of focus will be friction reduction between metal parts.

Tomonari Shirai, head of TRAMI's steering committee and chief engineer at Honda R&D, said the Japanese automotive industry is concerned about falling behind technologically given the huge investment being poured into powertrain electrification research by other regional automotive industries such as China and Germany.

Each TRAMI member will make available 10 engineers to collaborate on developing automotive transmission technologies to improve fuel efficiency. This is an area in which Japanese manufacturers have traditionally been very reluctant to collaborate.