BMW-Toyota Venture Could Spawn Multiple Sports Cars


The marriage between Toyota and BMW will produce twins, AutoCar has learned. The collaboration will give birth to a new Toyota Supra and the next version of the BMW Z4. Toyota’s Europe vice-president and product planning chief, Karl Schlicht, said at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this month: “The intention with the new car is for it to sit above the GT 86. It doesn’t replace that model; the GT 86 goes on with its own mission.” The  GT 86 is known at the Scion FR-S in the US market.

Both cars are expected to feature advanced hybrid powertrains and all wheel drive. One interesting rumor is that these hybrid cars will use supercapacitors instead of conventional lithium ion batteries. If so, it will represent an interesting new development in the technological march toward completing the electric car revolution.

BMW has learned a lot about using carbon fiber in to make automobiles with its i3 and i8 models. Observers expect that expertise will play a significant role in both new cars.

One question is whether the two cars will be the same size or different sizes. The latest Toyota FT-1 sports car concept is quite a bit larger than the Z4. Ian Robertson, BMW’s board member responsibile for sales and marketing, says the two manufacturers have come up with a proposal that is satisfactory for more than one part of the sports car market.

“The one thing we’re clear on now is that a platform for both companies can work,” he says. “The cars in themselves don’t actually need to be positioned the same. The platform can spawn two positionings. The concept works, the platform can deliver and now we have two proud sets of engineers – one group German, one group Japanese – who are each fighting and arguing for the car they want.”

Questioned about whether the new platform is scalable to accommodate different wheelbases, Robertson said: “Gone are the days when one platform was one platform. Most of our platforms are scalable these days.”

Although the decision to put the cars into production has not yet been made officially, Robertson suggests that both will be manufactured in the same location. Observers think it is more likely that assembly plant will be in Europe or the US than in Japan.

All of which makes some people wonder where all this leaves Lexus. The luxury-brand leader, whose skunkworks now produce the Mirai FCV, could benefit from a new-age sports car to replace the LFA. Or maybe not. The people who know, aren’t talking…..yet.


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.