The Toyota FT-1 concept wowed crowds at the Detroit Auto Show, and just a few months earlier the Japanese automaker announced a hybrid sports car alliance with Germany’s BMW. Bloomberg reports that the two automakers have moved the sports car program from the concept to the planning phase, with the larger partnership scheduled to run until at least 2020.
BMW and Toyota are also looking into hydrogen fuel cells, lithium-air batteries, and futuristic lightweight materials, though any details regarding the upcoming sports car are being kept under wraps. Could it draw inspiration from the hybrid FT-1, which Toyota reportedly already gave the green light to? Or will it be an as-yet-unreleased design? Toyota executives have said on several occasions that the brand could use an injection of excitement, and BMW’s foray into plug-in vehicles could use some Japanese expertise (even if Toyota claims nobody wants pure electric vehicles).
For its part, Toyota could stand to benefit from BMW’s own plug-in vehicle knowledge, especially how the German automaker managed to create a purpose-built EV with a curb weight hundreds of pounds less than the competition. Toyota has hardly given electric cars the effort they deserve, while BMW has invested tremendously into their plug-in program, and the difference it makes in the vehicles is obvious. The Japanese automaker obviously wants to tap into whatever it is that makes BMW the “Ultimate Driving Machine”, and the project, codenamed “Silk Road”, could even end up using a BMW four-banger as the primary source of motivation, plugged into a pair of electric motors, sort of like the BMW i8.
Will Toyota and BMW birth a beautiful cutting-edge sports car, or another underwhelming Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ mashup?