Two years after Toyota renewed its trademark for the “Supra” name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Japanese automaker is doubling down on the trademark front by filing a similar application with the European Union Intellectual Property Office.
According to , Toyota filed the trademark on March 6, 2016 and this filing is the latest sign that the company is drawing closer to bringing back the famous nameplate on the sports car it’s developing as part of a partnership with BMW. The collaboration between the two auto giants began in earnest back in 2010 and while neither Toyota’s sports car nor BMW’s own version, reportedly to be called the Z5, have yet to be unveiled in public, previous reports have indicated that production for both models will begin in 2018. Independent vehicle manufacturer Magna Steyr will reportedly produce both models in Graz, Austria with a target of building 60,000 combined units annually. Should that timetable proceed as scheduled, an official unveiling – or two – could be in the cards for 2017.
If Toyota does bring back the Supra name for the sports car as many expect it to be, it would represent the fifth-generation model for the iconic nomenclature. The Japanese automaker last used the Supra name in 2002 when the fourth-generation model, codenamed the A80, was on its last legs.
As far as official details about the car are concerned, Toyota has done a good job at keeping them from getting disclosed to the public. There have been some rumors that the model’s platform will be shared with that of the BMW sports car. That said, the design for both cars will be different with the Toyota sports car expected to carry some styling influences from the Toyota FT-1 concept that was unveiled at the 2014 Detroit Motor Show. Likewise, both models are reportedly getting gas-powered engines from BMW and a hybrid powertrain from Toyota.
To be clear, none of these “reports” have been officially confirmed by Toyota or BMW, but that’s an issue for another time. What’s important is that Toyota’s trademark of the “Supra” name in Europe is the latest sign that the iconic nameplate will be dusted off after spending 14 years in the shelves.
Why it matters
I don’t think I need to remind anybody how exciting it is to get more updates on the long-awaited Toyota sports car and the increasing possibility that it will be using the “Supra” name. We’re all excited about what this could mean for Toyota. Bringing back the Supra name would immediately add some legitimacy to the sports car, although the excitement surrounding this car will also come with incredibly high expectations.
That’s the challenge now for Toyota. If the Japanese automaker does bring back the Supra name, the company will be under immense pressure to develop a sports car that can live up to the legacy created by the four previous generations of the Supra. While it’s true that the Toyota made the decision to end the Supra’s production in 2002 on its own, it said that the reason for doing so was because of more restrictive emissions standards and decreasing sales of sports cars in North America at the time. It can be argued then that the Supra became a victim of forces outside of its control, so the nameplate itself retained its status. That’s why a lot of people are excited to see the car make a comeback because Toyota shouldn’t have been forced to drop it in the first place.
Now that the sports car appears to be on its way to making a dramatic return, it’s going to be especially interesting to see how Toyota, BMW , and now Magna Steyr , will be able to piece together a final product that will can proudly live up to the nameplate’s legacy. I’m personally not worried because of the companies that are involved. More importantly, Toyota knows what’s at stake here. If it really wants to make a dent in the sports car scene, it needs to hit a home run with that model. Having it use the Supra name is a bonus, but the important thing is to see the development through to make sure that it can proudly carry the Supra’s beloved history and tradition.