Companies Combine Expertise in Hybrid, Lightweight Car Construction
More details have emerged about the new sports car platform BMW and Toyota are jointly developing. Said to be hitting the market within three years, Toyota’s version of the new car will likely wear a Supra badge, while the BMW version will slot in as the replacement for the Z4 roadster.
Both cars are to have 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder gas engines, with the Supra also featuring hybrid technology. Expect to see aluminum intensive construction, as used in the current BMW i3 and i8 plug-in hybrids. The joint-venture sports car is said to have a target weight of just 3,000 lbs—tiny by today’s standards.
The BMW and Toyota will probably be distinguished by the latter’s use of hybrid power and the former’s convertible top—though it’s not clear if Toyota will also offer a Supra convertible, which would be a first in the history of that nameplate.
With hybrid tech expertise coming from Toyota, we may finally see a road-going version of the supercapacitor hybrid system used in the TS040 Le Mans prototype and the wild Yaris Hybrid R concept car. Such a system would use up to three electric motors, two at the front wheels and one sandwiched between the engine and transmission, acting as a generator.
Styling of the new cars will differ widely, unlike with the Toyota/ Subaru partnership cars, the Scion FR-S and BRZ. The Supra and the Z4’s replacement will have very distinct looks. Sources at Toyota, however, say the new car will preserve only vague hints of the FT-1 concept car penned by Toyota’s Calty Design Center in Newport Beach and unveiled at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.
The Toyota/ BMW sports car partnership comes alongside an existing agreement between the two companies to co-develop diesel engines, and it highlights both firms’ commitment to sustainability and advancing ecologically-minded transportation.