BLOG: Ford-Toyota match makes dollars and sense

Today's Ford-Toyota agreement to jointly develop hybrid technology brings back memories of another joint venture announced in Dearborn a quarter-century ago.

Back then, Ford struck a deal with Nissan to develop vehicles that eventually were sold as the Mercury Villager and Nissan Quest minivans. Everyone was playing catch-up with Chrysler's people movers in those days. Yet the thought of Ford, which was riding high just as it is now, needing to share anything with anyone made some folks swallow hard.

Indeed, as I left the press conference at Ford's world headquarters that day, I heard one official mutter: "There we go, jumping in bed with the f*#$%@! Japanese again!"

This time, everyone is racing to find a way to meet tightening U.S. fuel-economy standards at a cost that won't make too many customers gag.

Sure, given the industry's track record with joint ventures, there will be some healthy suspicion about who's going to be taking whom for a ride in this Ford-Toyota deal.

But I can't see how anyone at either company could fail to at least imagine the benefits of the world leader in hybrid technology coupling with the king of big pickups.

Their competitors sure will.

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