Putting an end to a long-standing rumor, BMW and Toyota have announced that they are moving forward with the joint development of a sports car.
While both automakers are doing their best to keep official details under wraps, industry rumors indicate the jointly-developed platform will spawn the successor to the BMW Z4 (pictured) and a heir to the iconic Toyota Supra that was axed a little over a decade ago. BMW will tap into its extensive carbon fiber expertise in order to make both cars as light as possible.Both cars will ride on the same rear-wheel drive platform, though all-wheel drive will likely be offered at an extra cost on select trim levels. The cars will be available with either a straight-six engine borrowed from the BMW parts bin or a Toyota-designed gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain consisting of a four-cylinder engine and a potent electric motor.
Cooperation on the underpinnings of the vehicles “has moved on to the concept phase and is running according to plan,” Munich-based BMW said in a statement to Bloomberg News. A technical feasibility study that began in January 2013 has been “successfully completed.”
The midsize model is the most visible project within a broader partnership the manufacturers have said will last until at least 2020. The two companies have been tight-lipped about details, including the targeted introduction date, after announcing the plan early last year. Toyota today confirmed that the project has moved beyond the feasibility stage, which was initially due to be completed by the end of 2013.
Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, needs sports cars “to put that energy back into the brand,” Europe Executive Vice President Karl Schlicht said last month at the Paris Motor Show when asked about the cooperation with BMW, which this year started selling the racy $135,700 i8 plug-in hybrid.
In January, Toyota showed the FT-1 coupe concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The company said the rear-wheel-drive sports car’s design drew from past models including the Supra, 2000GT and Celica.
In addition to the sports car, Toyota and the world’s biggest maker of luxury vehicles are cooperating on research into fuel cells, lightweight technology and lithium-air batteries. The two companies agreed to work together on lithium-ion batteries in 2012. Both companies declined to comment further on the new sports cars. Cooperation on the underpinnings of the vehicles «has moved on to the concept phase and is running according to plan,» Munich-based BMW said in a statement to Bloomberg News.
They report this new midsize sports car is part of a larger partnership between the two companies that will extend til at least 2020. That technical feasibility study is running a little behind, since it was supposed to be completed at the end of last year.
The two cars will not share any body panels and they will wear a distinctly different design. BMW’s variant will take the form of a convertible with a retractable hard top, while the Toyota-badged model is expected to arrive as a coupe.Both sports cars will be introduced in either late 2016 or early 2017 and go on sale shortly after. The Supra was loosely previewed by the FT-1 concept that bowed in Detroit last year, and the next Z4 could be shown as a thinly-veiled concept before its official debut.
According to the report, the first stage of the stage, a technical feasibility study that began in January 2013 has been ‘successfully completed.’ For BMW the new platform is expected to spawn a replacement for the Z4, which has been tentatively dubbed the Z5 currently. The sports car is rumored to use a carbon fiber tub similar to that of their i-range of cars- i3 and i8. Although no official words are out, but the model is most likely to come with a conventional soft top, and some rumors also hints for a proper coupe variant. In terms of engine options, the all-new Z5 could come with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, rated at 190 bhp, 245 bhp and 270 bhp for different variants. A high-performance Z5 M is also expected which would use a turbocharged six-cylinder mill, with roughly 425 bhp of output.
While for Toyota, the platform is expected to spawn a new ‘Supra.’ Whereas other seemingly less substantiated reports also speculates to anything from a hybrid-powered Lexus LFA successor, or two sports cars to rival the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ duo. So what will come or not, this is still a big doubt.