U.K.’s Autocar recently confirmed that the much awaited sports car collaboration of BMW and Toyota is finally underway.
In 2011, both automakers signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding a partnership on green technologies during the Tokyo Motor Show. While the main focus of the agreement was the development of environment-friendly technologies such as lithium-ion batteries, it also allowed room for the two companies to work on other collaborative projects.
One of these collaborative projects is a joint development for a sports car, one with a platform that will be used to underpin a model for each auto company. There have not been a lot of reports about this sports car collaboration. Toyota has revealed plans of developing new architecture and showcased the FT-1 sports car concept, but did not disclose any information related to a joint project. BMW has also been mum about a new race car project.
Now, car enthusiasts have something specific to look forward. The result of the auto giants’ partnership is a new Z4 as well as Toyota’s follow up to the Supra. Both cars will be equipped with the same super-capacitor technology Toyota utilizes in the Le Mans LMP1 race cars.
Autocar reported that BMW will be in charge of body and chassis development while Toyota will handle the hybrid technology development. Not much information are given from BMW’s side, but many speculate that the Munich-based carmaker will build the autos using aluminum, high-strength steel and carbon fiber. BMW is expected to construct the body with the same materials it has used for the construction of its i3 and i8 models.
As for Toyota’s hybrid technology, it stores recaptured engine in a super-capacitor rather than a battery.
Super-capacitors are preferred because they can absorb and discharge electrical energy quicker compared to lithium-ion batteries. Hence, these can better provide the acceleration sports car drivers favor. Moreover, these are more lightweight than the batteries.
The BMW-Toyota sports car will be the very first application of this hybrid technology.
Autocar also noted that the Z4 and the Supra successor will be powered by an engine engineered by BMW: a gasoline motor with not more than 2.0 liters of displacement that is connected to electric motors. Both will also be made as front-engine, all-wheel drive vehicles.
Toyota has already unveiled a similar powertrain system with its Yaris Hybrid-R Concept. The concept had a 1.6-liter turbocharged 300-hp four-cylinder engine paired with 60-hp electric motor for each of the rear wheels.
According to the report, the new Z4 and Supra may not be the last collaborative project between BMW and Toyota. The automakers are foreseen to continue their partnership in the future, with the both of them sharing engineering and components.
What makes this relationship interesting is that both companies also have similar agreements with other automakers. The Japanese carmaker has an agreement with Ford, a partnership specifically limited to the development of hybrid SUVs and trucks. Meanwhile, BMW has an agreement with PSA Peugeot Citroen Group regarding the development of front-wheel drive hybrid technology particularly for subcompacts.
Photo credit: toyota.com