TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. has started buying electric motors for hybrid cars from Hitachi Ltd. to help meet surging demand for the fuel-efficient vehicles, a Japanese newspaper said on Monday.
A rise in gasoline prices has spurred growing demand for hybrid cars -- especially in the United States -- and Toyota's own supply capacity for hybrid car parts is likely to fall short of demand in the medium- to long-term, the Nihon Keizai business daily said.
To help fill the gap, Toyota has signed a purchasing contract with Hitachi to buy electric motors despite Hitachi's traditionally close ties with rival Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., the newspaper said without quoting specific sources.
Following the signing of the contract, Hitachi has started supplying rear motors for Toyota's Harrier Hybrid and Kluger Hybrid four-wheel-drive vehicles, both of which were launched in 2005, Nihon Keizai said.
Toyota's purchasing contract with Hitachi is the automaker's first procurement of a key hybrid car component from a non-group firm, and also marks Toyota's first large-scale business dealing with Hitachi, the newspaper said.
Toyota and Hitachi officials were not immediately available for comment on Monday, a national holiday in Japan.