2015 BMW i8, 2013 Frankfurt Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
We've known for some time that BMW and Toyota were planning to develop a hybrid sports car together, but until now it hasn't been clear what market that sports car would be aimed at.
Now we know, and the news isn't great for anyone expecting the companies to develop something affordable.
Instead, says Motoring.com.au, the two firms are working on something significantly higher-end--think hybrid supercar, rather than a hybrid take on Toyota's no-frills GT 86 sports car.
Sources close to the companies suggest the use of cutting-edge materials and state-of-the-art hybrid technology will push the price into proper supercar territory--possibly as far as the $375,000 or so that the V-10-engined Lexus LFA supercar sold for during its brief production run.
That's still more affordable than the latest wave of hybrid hypercars from Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren--Porsche's 918 Spyder is the "cheapest" with a tag of $845,000--but significantly more than many were expecting from a rumored Toyota Supra successor.
It's likely that Toyota will donate its hybrid expertise to the project, and both companies can offer experience with carbon fiber construction technology--Motoring recently spied a BMW i8 parked at Toyota's proving ground near Mt Fuji in Japan, while the aforementioned LFA supercar was also built from carbon fiber.
Powertrain details are less clear, though both automakers have a selection of larger-capacity gasoline units that could form the basis of a high-performance hybrid drivetrain.
The hybrid supercar is just one of several projects the two manufacturers are working on. BMW and Toyota are also working together on future fuel cell technology, with Toyota's car expected to debut in 2015.