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BMW and Toyota could debut a hybrid sports car later this year

BMW and Toyota announced in late 2011 that the two massive automakers had entered into an agreement to jointly develop new technology including fuel cell, diesel and hybrid drivetrains but rumors indicate that the first co-designed vehicle from Toyota and BMW could be a sports car – and it could debut as soon as late this year.

While it was widely expected that the partnership between BMW and Toyota would focus on improving high efficiency drivetrain tech, the two companies also announced that they were working on a “feasibility study” into whether or not they could/should develop a midsized sports car. Evidently, that idea proved to be feasible as the word on the street is that the BMW/Toyota joint sports car could make its conceptual debut late this year at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

According to the folks at Motor Trend, the Tokyo Motor Show could introduce the world to a pair of midsized hybrid sports coupes with one being badged as a BMW and the other wearing Toyota logos. Toyota has reportedly been working on a hybrid version of the GT86 compact sports coupe that features electric drive to the front wheels while the gasoline drivetrain powers the rear wheels. It is believed that the BMW/Toyota joint midsized sports car could feature a similar drivetrain setup with a forced induction BMW engine under the hood coupled with Toyota electric drive technology. As was the case with the Subaru and Toyota joint program that was responsible for the Toyota GT86, the Scion FRS and the Subaru BRZ, Toyota would look to the new partner – in this case BMW – to have a heavy hand in the chassis development.

In terms of size, the BMW and Toyota hybrid sports coupe would be slightly larger than the BMW Z4 and the Toyota GT86 so it would offer more cargo space and more rear passenger space than those compact coupes while the all wheel drive hybrid drivetrain would give the BMW/Toyota joint sports car a big advantage over both the GT86 and the Z4 in terms of performance and efficiency.

The BMW/Toyota joint sports car would differ from the Subaru/Toyota in a variety of ways from size to drivetrain design to real world performance but the most noticeable difference with this newest Toyota/BMW project could be the exterior design. The Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S and Toyota GT86 are all pretty much identical with only badging, some very minor exterior design and some interior bits helping to differentiate between the three. That works for the Toyota, Subaru and Scion brands because those three automakers fit into the same basic markets around the world. On the other hand, BMW and Toyota are two vastly different brands so it wouldn’t have sense for the two to offer the same car with different badging. There is a good chance that BMW buyers wouldn’t want to be driving a car that could be labeled as a “rebadged Toyota” while the idea of a BMW sports coupe rebadged as a Toyota would likely cost far too much to fit into the Japanese automaker’s showroom. Because of this, it is widely expected that while the joint BMW and Toyota midsized sports coupe would share drivetrain components and chassis architecture, the exterior design of the two cars looking vastly different from each other. This way, the two cars would have the advantage of shared technology while appealing to two very different types of buyer with the BMW offering a more high end, luxury sports coupe with a higher price while the Toyota version would probably be less luxurious inside with a smaller price tag to boot.

For Toyota, this partnership could bring about the newest incarnation of the legendary Supra sports car but that name has always been applied to rear drive models so a hybrid all wheel drive model – especially one designed with the help of BMW – might not be able to fit into the shoes of the last generation Supra back in the 1990s. For BMW, this joint sports car comes as just another high tech, high end sports car that will fit between the Z4 and the 6 Series coupes.

Unfortunately, while the Toyota and Subaru joint venture catered to fun nicknames like the “Toyobaru coupes” the BMW name doesn’t lend itself to such a play on words. Perhaps something like BMYota will catch on…or maybe ToyoMW…or maybe not. Regardless of catchy names, we fully expect that any joint sports car issued by Toyota and BMW should be pretty impressive when it arrives in terms of both efficiency and performance capabilities. According to Motor Trend, the new pair of hybrid midsized sports coupes from BMW and Toyota could debut in concept form in late November.

Source: Motor Trend