TOKYO (Reuters) -- Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW AG said they would hold a joint news conference at 4 p.m. (2 a.m. EST) in Tokyo on Thursday after sources this week flagged a likely cooperation between the two in green-car technology.
Toyota and BMW did not give the subject of the briefing. A source familiar with the matter said earlier in the week that the two were poised to cooperate in developing electric car batteries, while media reports have also raised potential deals in diesel engines and hybrids.
Toyota executive vice president and chief engineer, Takeshi Uchiyamada; Toyota European chief Didier Leroy; and BMW board members Klaus Draeger and Ian Robertson will attend the news conference.
A hand-shake between the two industry stalwarts would come as automakers face ballooning research and development costs to meet tougher emissions and fuel-economy standards around the world. They must also meet consumers' varying preferences for vehicle powertrains across different regions.
Their rivals Nissan Motor Co. and Daimler AG have especially been aggressive in pursuing partnerships to save costs.
A tie-up in diesel technology with BMW would represent a reversal in Toyota's strategy after it scrapped plans two years ago to develop 1.6-litre diesel engines with Japanese truck maker Isuzu Motors Ltd., in which it owns a 5.9 percent stake.
In outlining Toyota's medium-term strategy, President Akio Toyoda had told his first press conference in June 2009 that the company would shift its focus in Europe to hybrids and away from diesel so as not to get "lost in the crowd".
But Toyota has lost market share in Europe, partly due to a dearth of diesel cars, which make up more than half of new vehicle sales there. Diesel engines use less fuel and emit less carbon dioxide than gasoline engines.
While virtually all car makers acknowledge that hybrid technology will be necessary when regulations become tighter, it has struggled to gain traction in Europe and has never accounted for more than 2 percent of global sales.
Under Toyoda, Japan's biggest automaker has forged numerous alliances, including partnerships with Aston Martin, Tesla Motors Inc, Microsoft, Salesforce.com and Ford Motor Co.
BMW's Robertson said at the Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday that he expected to see more tie-ups between car makers, and that the German premium car maker remained open to cooperation as long as it did not dilute its brand. BMW has a deal to work on common components with Daimler, and on hybrids with PSA Peugeot Citroen.