Despite an alliance that stretches back to 2013, Toyota is still to make the final call on a new sports car to be co-developed with BMW.
Already the two companies are developing hydrogen fuel-cell technologies together, and it is possible that BMW could find a platform for a smaller MINI Rocketman from within the Toyota group.
But the headline act for the collaboration will be a joint sports car, something Toyota has already hinted at with its FT-1 concept (top and bottom of page), first shown last year and mooted as a spiritual successor to the Supra.
For BMW a new coupe could sit at the head of the Z range of sports cars, a possible successor to the Z8, although the name is yet to be confirmed.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Toyota’s head of European operations, Johan van Zyl told Automotive News Europe that the company’s joint work on fuel cells, lightweight components and a possible sportscar platform were “all on schedule and on track”
A spokesman for Toyota added “By the end of the year we will approve whether or not we will make it,” saying that while progress on the shared platform continued, a production future was yet to be given the green light.
BMW’s chief finance officer, Friedrich Eichiner, told assembled press at Frankfurt that BMW was looking at ways to deepen links between the two companies.
“Both companies are interested in further expanding their cooperation,” Mr. Eichiner said in a comment to The Wall Street Journal.
Toyota may look to the fortunes of its entry-level 86 coupe, which has fallen short of global sales targets, before investing in a more expensive model.
BMW will also be looking to demand in the declining Chinese market before making a decision.
While a sports car may sell well in the US and Europe, the Chinese preference for sedans and SUVs may impact on the sports car program.
BMW may however decide to use the jointly developed car as a stepping stone into the high-performance supercar rumoured to be under development with McLaren.
Supra fans will eagerly be awaiting Toyota’s announcement on a long-awaited rival to the likes of the Nissan GT-R and Honda NSX. Expect to have a clearer picture before the end of this year.