Ford, rattled by rival Toyota‘s moves to squeeze the supply of hybrid engine components, is moving to develop its own hybrid expertise, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, according to Reuters.


The paper said the car maker also wants to cultivate ties with suppliers to ensure a more reliable supply of these components, the paper said.


Ford, the first Detroit-based automaker to bring to market a full-fledged hybrid, is also considering selling a Ford-designed hybrid in China, the paper said, citing the company’s hybrid programme manager, Mary Ann Wright.


Ford believes the market for hybrids will grow because people want better fuel economy and cleaner emissions, Wright reportedly told the paper in an interview.


Reuters said Ford currently buys all of the hybrid transaxles it needs from Aisin, a member of Toyota’s supplier group.


Wright reportedly said Toyota apparently awarded Aisin AW a significant amount of business to produce hybrid transaxles, limiting the Japanese supplier’s ability to supply key components to allow Ford to boost production of the Ford Escape hybrid.


To fight back, Wright reportedly said Ford is trying to develop deeper knowledge of transaxles, while maintaining ties with Aisin AW. Ford, she added, is moving to sign up more strategic partners to develop hybrid technology, including Delphi.


The hybrid battery unit of Japan’s Sanyo Electric Co. has been solely responsible for supplying nickel metal hydride batteries for Ford’s Escape hybrid. But as production of the Escape increases and Ford adds more hybrid products to its lineup, Sanyo has struggled to keep up, Reuters noted.


To ease the burden, Ford, Sanyo and Delphi have agreed to divide up the work, Wright reportedly said.