BMW, Toyota roadsters to be built by Magna Steyr, report says

The BMW Z4 successor is shown camouflaged during testing. It is likely to be called the Z5. Photo credit: BRIAN WILLIAMS / SPIEDBILDE

MUNICH — BMW and Toyota have picked Magna Steyr to build their upcoming roadster developed from a joint platform, according to a report.

The next generation BMW Z4, likely to be called the Z5, and the Toyota Supra successor will run off the assembly line in the contract manufacturer’s plant in Graz, Austria, starting 2018, the Kleine Zeitung local newspaper reported. It said annual production of 60,000 cars is planned for the two models.

BMW has said it will contract Magna Steyr, a unit of Magna International Inc., to build a new model next year after it decided to end production of the Mini Paceman and Countryman in Graz this year but has not named the model. The Countryman likely will be built at the VDL Nedcar factory in the Netherlands that already produces the Mini hatchback, although BMW has not yet disclosed the new production location. The Paceman is being axed.

A Magna Steyr spokesman said the company was not yet permitted to say which BMW model would replace production of the Paceman and Countryman.

Spokespeople at BMW and Toyota Europe declined comment on the Kleine Zeitung report.

The current Z4 has been on the market since May 2009 and BMW executives said early this year that no final approval had been given for a replacement despite the completion of feasibility studies.

Demand for two-seaters is largely dormant, which prompted BMW to ax the Mini Coupe and Roadster, along with the Paceman. Z4 sales fell 47 percent in the first quarter and the model accounts for just three-tenths of 1 percent of BMW brand’s volume.

When asked then by Automotive News Europe whether it was still financially worth competing in the roadster segment, BMW CEO Harald Krueger said the company’s cooperation with Toyota would help. “BMW has a long roadster tradition,” he said. “We will occupy the segment once more. It’s not big, but it’s important for the strength of the brand.”

Magna Steyr is a unit of Canada’s Magna International and its specialty is building low volume cars, ideal for a niche model like a roadster. The Graz factory currently builds the Mercedes G class SUV and will add an as yet unnamed Jaguar Land Rover model in 2017. Production of the Peugeot RCZ coupe at the plant ended last year.

Earlier this month Magna Steyr said retooling works at the Graz plant are on schedule and will be completed next year. It forecast that annual production at Graz will surpass 200,000 vehicles in 2018. Last year Graz built 103,904 cars.

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