We already knew Toyota and BMW were collaborating on a joint venture sportscar project, but recent news that Toyota has made new trademark applications in Europe and the US for the Supra name has cast the spotlight on the project again.
The Toyota FT-1 coupe was shown at the Detroit motor show in 2014, although BMW and Toyota announced their joint venture all the way back in 2011 – declaring hydrogen fuel cells, shared battery tech and a new sportscar platform were included in the deal.
Above: The Toyota FT-1 concept car
While the BMW Z4 replacement and new Toyota Supra will take advantage of the shared technology, the Supra will be bigger than the next Z4 and feature an extended version of the joint venture platform. That will allow the Supra to sit about the GT86 model in the Toyota line-up.
Unlike Mazda’s recent tie-up with Fiat, which has left the new Fiat 124 Spider with a very obvious design connection to its MX-5 ‘donor’ car, the BMW and Toyota designs are completely separate. The vital sharing will all be hidden beneath the skin of two very different cars. So expect common running gear, and both cars a BMW petrol engine driving the rear wheels, with Toyota hybrid electric motors powering the front.
It's likely that the Toyota hybrid tech will have much in common with its Le Mans race cars, so like the TS050 Hybrid, the new sports cars will use electric motors on the front and rear axle, with petrol engine power driving the rear wheels. Electric power will come from regenerative braking, and will be stored in a lithium ion battery. This will allow Toyota and BMW to offer plug-in options too.
Interestingly, the system will implement Toyota’s first-ever dual-clutch transmission, in place of the slow-witted CVT gearboxes we’re accustomed to in existing Toyota and Lexus hybrids.
By designing the motors in-house, and taking advantage of BMW’s weight-saving methods, Toyota is thought to be targeting a kerbweight of less than 1,400kg. However, it’s expected that the BMW will be the lighter of the two models, on account of its smaller size.
The cars are expected to debut within a few months of one another, but not until 2017 at the earliest.