The sports car that BMW and Toyota plan to jointly develop could be a way for Toyota to leap back into a performance segment it has abandoned or possibly provide a high-priced sports model for Toyota's Lexus brand.
The two companies agreed last week to work together on an "environmentally friendly" sports car as well as on fuel-cell, electric vehicle components and lightweight materials.
"BMW's strength is in developing sports cars," said Toyota President Akio Toyoda, a racing fan who repeatedly has said he wants to add zest to Toyota's lineup. "I am excited to think of the cars that will result from this relationship."
Toyoda and BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer signed the agreement in Munich.
Details and timing of the cooperation were not discussed. But the sports cars will not be identical or share a common exterior design like the jointly developed Toyota 86, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ coupes, said a BMW spokeswoman in Munich. The Toyota/Subaru coupes went on sale this year.
BMW's vehicle "will be a sustainable sports car with environmentally friendly technology," she said. "We are developing the architecture and components for this future car."
A BMW insider speculated that the collaboration could provide the basis for the return of the Toyota Supra, possibly using the BMW 6-series architecture. The Supra, once the performance spearhead of the Toyota lineup, was last produced in 2002.
"Anything is possible," the senior BMW manager told Autoweek, a sibling publication of Automotive News Europe. "The key factor is that the products of both companies retain their own individual character, despite jointly developed technologies."
A Lexus sports car also is a possibility. Lexus showed the LF-LC concept in January at the Detroit auto show. If the concept is built, an executive said the production version would be priced similar to a Porsche 911 Turbo, which sells for more than $137,500. Borrowing BMW's expertise in suspension technology could lend better driving feel and responsiveness to the Lexus brand.
Jim Hall, principal of 2953 Analytics Inc. in suburban Detroit, said Toyota could use technology from the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car.
"It would be an expensive car," Hall said. "There is an argument that Lexus needs it and that is the logical place for them to do it."
BMW is expected to price the i8 at around $125,000 when it goes on sale in the first quarter of 2014. Sharing the i8 technology with Toyota would help BMW spread the cost of the i8's expensive components.
In March, BMW agreed to supply Toyota with its diesel engines starting in 2014 in exchange for collaboration on lithium-ion battery research.
Toyota has been the industry leader in hybrid vehicles, while BMW has expertise in carbon fiber.
Would be nice to buy Lotus, but I'm also liking this partnership business. I feel like Toyota called them and said, "Hey BMW and Subaru, we have an idea for a couple of sports cars. Since most of our R&D money is tied up in hybrids and etc, how about yall just go ahead and do most of the engineering work on it. Once done, we will approve it and throw our badge on it. Also, since you guys suck at making hybrids, here is a couple batteries." Deal done.
1995 ES300 (sold)
1997 Nissan Maxima SE 5-speed Black
I have the feeling this can go incredibly right or incredibly wrong The two cultures operate so differently as we know but both companies are really on top their games in many areas right now and both are arguably best in their classes. This could be like the 1992 Dream Team, two companies bent on whooping the competition's ***. Too many times partnerships are made out of desperation.
Imagine something in the veins of the FRS/GT86/BRZ but more powerful and capable and luxurious. Egads!!!
I think that Toyota has a lot they can learn from BMW in this partnership. Regarding powertrain electrification, Toyota really needs some performance hybrid tech. Don't get me wrong, the planetary split device is the best transmission on the market in my opinion. However, they need a more involving hybrid powertrain for something like the LF-Lc. BMW has something like that in all of their Activehybrids. Sure, it needs work but that's where Toyota can build upon their innovations - like they do with most tech.
Regarding the CF, BMW is set to be the largest carbon fiber manufacturer in 2013. They are actually in the process of tooling factories to mass make CF body panels for cars like the i3.
And hopefully Toyota can teach BMW a thing or two about electronics. I really wouldn't mind a Bavarian in my driveway if it were a touch lighter and far more reliable.
I agree. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Toyota work with BMW and Yamaha when designing and building the 2JZ-GTE Supra engine? I think we will see some pretty hot ***** from the two makers....