Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a Japanese business daily, first reported last week's Tokyo meeting between Toyota chairman Fujio Cho and Ford CEO Alan Mulally. The article included anonymous sources who said that Ford was interested in Toyota's work with hybrid and fuel-cell technologies and in reducing manufacturing costs.
Averting U.S. friction
The newspaper also reported that Japanese automaker Toyota would consider an alliance as a means to avert friction with the U.S. auto industry as it grows in the U.S. market.
But according to Reuters, while a spokesman for Toyota confirmed the meeting, he said it was only a "get acquainted" session that did not involve partnership discussions. A spokesman for Ford neither confirmed nor denied the report to Reuters.
Analysts quoted by the news service doubted that Toyota, which is expected to overtake Ford as the second-leading carmaker in the U.S., would want to enter a partnership with the struggling company.