BMW, Daimler Join Forces On Hybrid Drive System For Luxury Cars

System could be ready within three years.

BERLIN (AP) - Automakers DaimlerChrysler AG and BMW AG said Thursday they will work together to develop a hybrid drive system for luxury cars.

The two companies said they would work on a so-called ''mild'' hybrid system for rear-wheel-drive vehicles. That type of system is more efficient than a standard motor because it draws power from two energy sources, typically a gas or diesel engine combined with an electric motor, but less so than a full hybrid.

The system would be developed in Germany and should be available in vehicles within three years, the companies said in a joint statement.

Working together would allow them to pool development, testing and quality control resources, they said.

''Cooperation in the field of innovative drive systems makes good sense not only from a technical, but also from an economic standpoint,'' said Thomas Weber, a DaimlerChrysler board member responsible for research.

''It will help strengthen the competitiveness of two German manufacturers whose requirements in the premium segment are very similar.''

The agreement would expand the cooperation between the two companies already started in 2005 at a hybrid development center in the United States.

Though they would be working together, BMW board member Klaus Draeger said their final products would remain distinct.

''The distinct identities of the different brands will not be affected, since the relevant technologies will be tailored to fit the specific character of the different vehicles,'' he said.

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