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Thu, Jan 18, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Toyota amenable to `broader' ties with Ford, chairman says

AP , TOKYO

Toyota would be willing to consider a broader partnership with Ford if the US automaker requested it and the conditions were right, the company's president said in a newspaper interview published yesterday.

News that Toyota chairman Fujio Cho met Ford president and chief executive officer Alan Mulally at the latter's request last month in Tokyo stirred speculation of a potential alliance between the rivals.

In an interview held on Tuesday with Japan's Nikkei Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily, Toyota Motor Corp president Katsuaki Watanabe said partnering with Ford in new areas of business "would be fine provided both sides wanted it."

If the companies decided on a closer tie-up, it would likely center on technological development, the paper reported Watanabe as saying.

The two companies already have a number of cooperative agreements.

Toyota provides components for gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles to Ford Motor Co, the No. 2 automaker in the US.

Toyota has also licensed several of its hybrid system and emissions purification patents to Ford for use in its hybrid system.

Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said he could not confirm Watanabe's remarks.

But he said, however, that the company's stance has been that it would consider forming closer ties with other auto makers "if it turns out to be a win-win situation."

Officials at Ford, which is restructuring in the wake of an earnings slump, declined to comment on the report.

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