A Ford engineer updated WardsAuto on the automaker's development progress with its rear-drive hybrid truck and SUV technology that's being developed with Toyota. Don't be surprised if a future F-150 has a hybrid option, though the report suggests that engineers are still figuring out how to assure that a rear-drive hybrid truck performs the way truck owners expect.

"The nut we're trying to crack is: how do we do an F-150 hybrid?" said Kevin Layden, Ford director-electrification programs and engineering, to WardsAuto. "We're working with [Toyota] and developing plans."

The automakers expect the partnership to lower costs and reduce developmental time. Aside from figuring out how to make a hybrid powertrain that can handle the stresses of towing and hauling while still meeting fuel economy goals, achieving decent aerodynamics from a full-size truck is another obstacle.

Though Layden didn't rule out the possibility of sharing a pickup or SUV platform, a project like that might depend on the success of the two vehicles that emerge from the automakers' current collaboration. Soon, engineers from both companies will move to Ford's new Advanced Electrification Center with advanced battery testing equipment on site. Layden believes that having Toyota and Ford engineers work together is proving beneficial.

General Motors currently offers a hybrid powertrain option on the Chevrolet Silverado 1500/GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon and Denali SUVs, using an electrically variable transmission (with two electric motors) and 300-volt nickel-metal hydride battery mated to the 6.0-liter V-8 with cylinder deactivation. The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid is EPA-rated at 20/23 mpg city/highway in rear- or four-wheel-drive forms, higher than the Ford F-150's most efficient performer -- the rear-drive F-150 with the 3.7-liter V-6 rated at 17/23 mpg.

Source: WardsAuto (Subscription Required)