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BMW and GM part ways on fuel cell research

The two automakers ended talks about collaborating on fuel cell research, which frees BMW to partner with Toyota.

Heightening speculation that BMW and Toyota are about to announce an expanded partnership involving fuel cell technology, the German automaker confirmed today that it is no longer talking with General Motors about a similar research arrangement, reported a Bloomberg article.

On Friday, BMW and Toyota will hold a press conference announcing the details of a closer working relationship. Last December the two companies penned an agreement that gave Toyota access to BMW's small diesel engines to sell in its European line up of vehicles, and in return, Toyota would help BMW play catch up in the hybrid market by helping it develop its next generation lithium ion battery.

The auto manufacturers are expected to announce this week that they will collaborate on the development of fuel cell technology, with Toyota sharing its hydrogen powertrain, and BMW providing lightweight carbon fiber body panels that will make these alternative propulsion vehicles even more fuel efficient.

However, an existing cooperation agreement between BMW and GM, signed shortly after BMW entered into a research relationship with Toyota, seemed to be a competitive arrangement. By canceling that cooperative agreement, BMW seems to clearing the way for a tighter bond with Toyota, and one that will be exclusive when it comes to fuel cell research and development.