Toyota will license its fuel-cell technology to BMW, Nikkei reports image

Toyota Motor Corporation is nearing an agreement to license its fuel-cell technology to BMW AG, the Nikkei business daily reported.

The agreement is expected to be made official as early as Thursday, with Toyota to provide BMW with drivetrain and hydrogen storage technology, according to a report from Nikkei cited by Reuters. BMW will use the technology to build a prototype vehicle in 2015, with a market launch scheduled for 2020.

Fuel cells convert a fuel, usually hydrogen, into electricity, which then can be used to power cars and trucks. Fuel-cell vehicles can run five times longer than battery electric cars on a single power-up. Another advantage is that the tank of fuel-cell cars take just minutes to fill with hydrogen, compared with 8 hours to recharge a battery.

Rival carmakers including Daimler AG, General Motors, Nissan Motor, Honda Motor and Hyundai Motor are all developing fuel-cell vehicles, Nikkei said.

Fuel cell vehicles are expected to grow to a $1.8 billion market in 2030 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 percent, according to a Lux Research report. Sales of passenger cars and forklifts will drive this growth. Lux Research forecasts that 63,000 fuel cell passenger vehicles will be sold globally in 2030.