Two of Japan's top automakers have announced an unprecedented deal to share technology on the development of next generation vehicles. The cooperation between rivals Toyota and Nissan is seen as a way to cut the huge costs involved in production of hybrid cars.

Toyota and Nissan announced Monday that they will begin working together to help bring environmentally-friendly cars and trucks to the marketplace. In the first phase, Toyota will supply Nissan with some components for vehicles that combine an internal combustion engine with battery power.

Toyota Executive Vice President Akihiko Saito told a Tokyo news conference that the tie-up is meant to be a long-term affair. Mr. Saito said his company will commit to supply state-of-the-art hybrid system components to its rival for at least 10 years. He says Toyota and Nissan will also discuss exchanging information on related components with an eye to further cooperation.

Nissan will install the Toyota hybrid system in its vehicles to be sold in the United States in 2006.

Toyota, Japan's top automaker, is the world's biggest seller of hybrid vehicles and already has a deal with General Motors of the United States to develop environmental technology.

Nissan, the number three automaker in Japan, has been cooperating with its corporate partner Renault of France on fuel cell technology, but Nissan has not yet produced any hybrid vehicles.