TOKYO -- Long after a much-ballyhooed Toyota-Ford hybrid pickup partnership unraveled, the ill will lingers.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s powertrain chief says Ford Motor Co. didn't exactly steal Toyota's hallmark technology. But he insists his counterparts in Dearborn, Mich., milked the exchange for all they could before abruptly ending talks with Toyota's blueprints in hand.
Now the race is on between two champions: one in hybrids, the other in pickups.
Toyota thinks hybrid pickups will be needed soon, and its engineers are busy working on them. Ford, meanwhile, plans its own hybrid pickup by 2020.
The outcome could shape industry strategies in one of the hottest, most profitable vehicle segments and help determine how both companies meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations.
"This is a very competitive segment, and if one OEM receives a boost in sales with such an offering, the rest will surely soon follow," said Devin Lindsay, principal analyst at IHS Automotive. He said hybrid pickups could arrive as soon as 2017.
When Toyota and Ford unveiled plans for a hybrid pickup tie-up in 2011, it seemed like a perfect dovetailing of their strengths.
Ford sells the nation's best-selling large pickup: the F series. Toyota sells the world's best-selling hybrid: the Prius, with sales of more than 3.5 million worldwide since its 1997 introduction.
But two years later, Ford dumped the project, opting to go solo.
To hear Toyota's side of the story, it didn't end amicably.