TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp. will form partnerships with Michelin for tires and Exxon Mobil Corp. for fuel and engine lubricants as the automaker prepares to join the Formula One racing circuit in 2002.
Toyota said it will continue investing in racing subsidiary Toyota Motorsport GmbH, in Cologne, Germany, funding research and development and a new wind tunnel for Formula One models, as part of its 2001 motorsports strategy. Toyota didn't elaborate on the amount it will spend.
'Formula One is Toyota's newest challenge, and its biggest so far,' said Ove Andersson, president of Toyota Motorsport, at a Tokyo press conference.
The move is part of Toyota's plans to compete with Honda Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG, which already participate in Formula One. Racing can help carmakers promote their brand and develop new technology, as well as boost popularity with younger customers.
Toyota, which is to field its first Formula One team in 2002, also hopes racing will boost sales in Europe, where the company is the No. 9 automaker, with a 3.7 percent share in 2000.