Here’s what we know: Toyota is collaborating with BMW to develop a bunch of new technologies. One of the fun pieces of the two automakers’ pact is that they’ll be codeveloping a sports car, likely with their unique engines and drivetrains. But they’ll share a chassis.
What we don’t know yet is its size or performance. If Toyota’s incoming chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada has his way, though, it’s going to be the long-awaited follow up to the legendary Toyota Supra. The Supra, which started life as a high-performance version of the Toyota Celica coupe in 1979, grew into its own seriously quick sports car by the time it died off in the U.S. in 1999. A Japanese recession that inflated prices and the SUV craze of the 1990s took the luster out of sports cars that killed all but the Chevrolet Corvette in the mid-price segment.
But Toyota has been seeing huge success with the Scion FR-S (also called the Toyota GT86 abroad) it co-developed with Subaru, and it’s planning to add another model. Uchiyamada, who will be supplanting Fujio Cho at the helm of the automaker, wants something that will once again reach high and pack a punch as the Supra did.
“That’s what I want but it’s not me who makes the decision,” said Uchiyamada in an interview with Bloomberg. “It’s futile if we make something similar (to the 86),” he said.
Fortunately, the president of Toyota is a guy named Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the founder of the company, who races sports cars in his spare time, greenlit the Scion FR-S, and was key behind the agreement with BMW. According to our sister publication Motor Trend, the next Supra will share parts with the FR-S and likely have a hybrid powertrain. Both are possibilities, at least in concept. The 2015 Acura NSX will have an all-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain. And the Nissan GT-R, which is getting replaced for the 2017 model year, will likely have electric propulsion in its next iteration. Toyota and BMW are both heavily invested in electric and hybrid cars now. Uchiyamada is considered the father of the Toyota Prius.
It is expected that the first concepts to come from the Toyota-BMW partnership will debut this fall at the Tokyo Motor Show, with production starting a few years later. The last Supra we got on our shores was priced closely to the Corvette at around $45,000. Consequently, it was also around the same price as a Nissan GT-R in Japan. Over the last 14 years, the Corvette has stayed close to its roots, moving with the price of inflation to a $51,000 to $73,0000 car in base form; the Nissan GT-R now starts at more $100,000. Where the next Toyota Supra–or whatever sports car it ends up becoming–ends up is still a mystery. But if it’s going to be co-developed with BMW, don’t expect it to be cheap.