Ford Motor Co. acknowledges it has licensed the rights to about 20 Toyota Motor Corp. hybrid system patents in order to help the American auto maker develop its first-ever gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle.

A hybrid version of the Ford Escape — which is the first hybrid SUV for the North American market and the first carrying a U.S. nameplate — bows this fall, employing variations of the technology Ford received through a partnership struck with Toyota 18 months ago, Phil Martens, Ford Motor Co. group vice president-North America product creation, tells Ward's.

Martens says, as part of the technology-sharing, Ford is required to disclose which patented technology it used in its hybrid. Neither company reveals which hybrid technologies were lent to Ford, but Martens says some of the patents concerned transmission strategies and algorithms.

He is quick to point out other suppliers, such as Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and Continental Teves, played even larger roles than Toyota in Ford's hybrid development.

A Ford spokesman says Ford didn't copy much of Toyota's hybrid blueprint and didn't necessarily have to obtain the rights to use all of the approximately 20 patents it grabbed from Toyota.