All the way back at the end of 2011, Toyota and BMW announced a partnership that would help both brands further their fuel-cell, hybrid and lightweight technologies. Then, in 2012 the agreement was elaborated to include a new joint venture sports car. Finally, near the end of 2013 the two brands hinted that the venture would eventually yield a Z4 replacement for BMW and a Supra successor for Toyota.
Now, we’d originally expected to see the fruit of that agreement at the 2014 Detroit Motor Show, but Toyota gave us the FT-1 Concept instead. However, we now know that the FT-1 Concept may have struck closer to the Toyota-BMW agreement than we’d first thought… This is because AutoCar has just confirmed that the FT-1 bears striking similarities to the car the two brands eventually intend to produce.
First, though, let’s go back and look at which aspects of the future twin cars each brand intends to handle. Toyota plans to use their experience with the LMP1 sports car and the TS030 Le Mans prototype to develop a plug-in hybrid powertrain. BMW will reportedly be responsible for designing the chassis and body, and actually manufacturing the mechanics Toyota develops (engine, electric motors, etc.).
As you continue reading, though, do keep in mind that these are all still rumors at this point. Nonetheless, here’s everything else we know about the potential Z4/Supra successor:
Most of what we know revolves around the powertrain, since over the past six months Toyota has showcased some incredible new technologies in that department. Most notably, the new BMW-Toyota supercar is rumored to feature a front-engine, all-wheel drive configuration with a high-power hybrid system. In fact, it appears the car will feature technology very similar to what we saw in the Toyota Yaris Hybrid R last year in Frankfurt – a high-output, low-displacement direct-injection engine (the Yaris Hybrid R had 300hp with 1.6L) paired with three electric motors and supercapacitors instead of the typical lith-ion batteries.
In addition to the engine and motor configuration, the car is expected to utilize a sequential manual gearbox instead of a CVT, and lightweight technology as seen in BMW’s i3 and i8 sports cars. It will also use some of Toyota’s carbon fiber manufacturing technology that they perfected through the Lexus LFA supercar to simultaneously lighten and stiffen the car. Finally, driving mechanics will be perfected through Toyota’s torque vectoring control units.
Even though both hybrid supercars will feature the same underpinnings, it’s expected that Toyota and BMW will differentiate the specific exterior design. Personally, we hope that Toyota sticks pretty close to the FT-1 Concept, as that car looked spectacular.
Obviously, there’s a lot that we still don’t know about the potential BMW-Toyota supercar. We don’t know how much it will cost (although rumors put it in the six-figure range), what the exact powertrain numbers will be, or anything about its green technology. And we certainly don’t know when or where the car will make its debut. Having said that, we hope to get more concrete answers – if not a full preview – by the end of 2014.