Toyota confirms Supra successor

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BMW and Toyota have officially joined forces to develop a range of new vehicle technologies and a new mid-sized sports car platform by the end of 2013.

As part of a new binding agreement signed in Tokyo last night, Toyota will have access to BMW's sports car know-how enabling it to develop a successor to the iconic Supra sports car, which was discontinued by Toyota in 2002. It's not clear if the design of the new Toyota will be inspired by the 300kW hybrid six-cylinder FT-HS concept (pictured) that was lauched at the 2007 Detroit motor show.

BMW will also gain access to Toyota's hybrid research and lithium-ion battery technology which it requires to expand its new hybrid and electric car range, comprising the i3 and i8, both due in Australia mid-way through 2014.

The move follows a previous deal that will see Toyota share BMW diesel engines from 2014, and formalises a memorandum of understanding signed between the two auto makers last year.

But unlike Toyota's tie-up with Subaru that spawned the smaller 86/BRZ sports cars, the new mid-sized sports car is expected to have a vastly different exterior to its BMW twin under the skin. The use of lightweight, exotic materials such as carbon-fibre composites for the platform and body panels should also make the new vehicles more expensive propositions than the cut-price 86/BRZ.

According to the official press statement, the Supra successor is not likely to be the only jointly-developed high performance vehicle, with intentions for both companies to "further collaborate in the field of sports vehicle development".

Other areas of cooperation include battery technology research, which will focus on lithium-air systems that are purported to deliver "energy density greatly exceeding that of current lithium-ion batteries".

A new hydrogen fuel cell system (motor, fuel tank, battery) in development is expected to be ready to rolled out in 2020 and both companies "are convinced that fuel cell technology is one of the solutions necessary to achieve zero emissions".

The car makers will also push hard to create hydrogen refuelling infrastructure and develop "codes and standards" to be adopted by energy providers.

TMC boss Akia Toyoda said the signing of this official agreement strengthens the bonds between his company and the BMW Group and will deliver tangible results.

"Now, we are entering the phase that promises the fruit. While placing importance on what we learn from the joint development, we will work hard together in reaching our common goal of making ever-better cars," said Toyoda-san.


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