Toyota has become adept at hybridizing its mainstream offerings and now with BMW, it aims to apply the formula to a co-developed supercar that will need no excuses among the world’s elites.
Presently Toyota’s top sports car is the gas-guzzling V10-powered Lexus LFA, and the collaboration to create a $300,000 or more hybrid sports car flagship will build on lessons learned from the $375,000 Lexus that has wowed reviewers but never really taken over.
The BMW-Toyota brain trust will reportedly produce the first fruit of a nearly two-year-old agreement between the two automakers.
Yes, rather than pool their resources to create viable solutions for average income folks, and address pressing energy and emissions concerns, the two automakers in their wisdom are mulling a two-door carbon-fiber hybrid pushing well north of 600 horsepower.
At any rate, according to motoring.au – which saw a BMW i8 at Toyota’s proving grounds near Mt. Fuji undergoing stress tests as part of research for the exotic supercar to be – questions remain for details including powertrain and chassis construction.
After speaking with an un-named source at the location, the report suggests an engine based on BMW’s 4.4-liter V8 would be a possible donor to receive Toyota’s hybridization talents.
Even without the electrical assist, when equipped in BMW’s M5, this turbocharged gas engine that’s more frugal than Toyota’s V10 churns out 560 horses.
Another detail to be ironed out is chassis construction. BMW has developed carbon fiber reinforced plastic as used in its i3 and i8 but Toyota is sitting on a wealth of R&D knowledge about genuine carbon fiber having spent billions on the 10-year LFA project.
Only 500 examples of the LFA were produced – remember the ads where they revved the engine and shattered a wine glass with the screaming sonic emanations from the tail pipe? — That exercise in conspicuous consumption has not really paid off for Toyota’s bean counters, so merging some intellectual capital derived from the LFA’s development into a hybrid supercar could.
Whether any of this talk of channeling billions in research to create a slightly better gas guzzler looks like a waste to some or not, supercars do pay dividends in brand cachet. The intangible payback for over-the-top transportation solutions feeds into an automaker’s corporate pride and adds to marketing credibility used to sell more affordable cars.
Further, European supercar makers including Ferrari, Porsche, and McLaren already have hybrid supercars for sale, so it’s actually a game of catch-up for Toyota which is expert at hybridization but whose LFA has never dethroned the kings of Europe.
Teaming with BMW to build a car to be branded by both, this work is reportedly underway with a mandate to waste no time.
And if Toyota’s previous track record with other joint ventures is any indicator, the BMW/Toyota hybrid supercar may well be a smashing success.
Toyota’s and BMW’s goal is to amplify the excitement while reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
Working with GM, Toyota gave the world the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe pair, and with Subaru, sports car fans of more modest means are still celebrating the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S.
Now cooperating with the German maker of the “ultimate driving machines,” will the European elites finally have something to worry about from Toyota?
If Toyota and BMW have anything to say about it, this is the plan.