By Robert Lester
Toyota, the world’s second-biggest carmaker, has said it would be open to a partnership with Ford if its US rival offered the right terms.
Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe made the admission after it emerged that the company’s chairman Fujio Cho met Ford chief executive Alan Mulally in Japan recently.
It is likely that any alliance would focus on technological development and Toyota has ruled out a full-scale merger.
Ford says it is "always interested in partnerships or alliances over mutual interests". Experts say that the company would benefit from Toyota’s more environmentally friendly technology.
News of a possible collaboration comes as Toyota is about to overtake General Motors to become the world’s biggest carmaker.
Alliances have become more popular in the car industry in recent years. GM held talks with Renault-Nissan about a partnership last year but they eventually broke down and the US car giant is now considering taking a stake in Proton, the state-controlled Malaysian car company.