BMW Ends Talks With GM on Fuel-Cell Research Cooperation

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG ended talks with General Motors Co. to cooperate on fuel cells to power future vehicles, with the world’s largest maker of luxury autos poised to expand its partnership with Toyota Motor Corp.

“We are still talking to GM, but no longer on the topic of fuel cells,” Alexander Bilgeri, a spokesman for the Munich-based carmaker, said today by phone.

BMW and Toyota are set to expand their cooperation to fuel cells and components for electric-powered cars, said a person familiar with the situation who declined to be identified ahead of an official announcement. BMW Chief Executive Officer Norbert Reithofer and Toyota President Akio Toyoda have scheduled a press conference for June 29, according to an invitation today from the German manufacturer. The carmakers declined to comment.

BMW said on Dec. 12 that it was in talks with GM to cooperate on fuel-cell technology. Selecting Toyota as its partner would expand on an agreement signed Dec. 1 to cooperate on boosting the performance of lithium-ion batteries. At the time, the companies said they would explore other projects to develop fuel-saving technologies. Der Spiegel earlier reported on the expanded cooperation between BMW and Toyota.

“We have business relationships with many different manufacturers and regularly explore potential forms of cooperations,”said Marc Kempe, a spokesman for GM in Europe. “There is nothing to announce with regards to BMW.”

Research partnerships have become standard in the auto industry, as manufacturers look to reduce development expenses to meet stricter emissions regulations. BMW cooperates with PSA Peugeot Citroen on engines for the Mini brand. The two companies are also currently cooperating on hybrid components. Those plans are under review after GM took a stake in the French manufacturer as part of a broader alliance.

BMW remains “committed” to the hybrid-component business, Bilgeri said.