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Next BMW Z4 To Share Platform With Toyota Model, Feature Hybrid Tech: Report

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2014 BMW Z4

2014 BMW Z4

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In late 2011, BMW and Toyota signed a memorandum of understanding for collaboration on a number of projects, one of which was joint development of a sports car platform that would underpin a model for each automaker. While Toyota has made little secret of its plans for the new platform, having presented the FT-1 sports car concept and renewing its Supra trademark in the past couple of months alone, BMW’s lips have remained sealed.

Given the expected size of the platform, we’re unlikely to see BMW use it for a revived 8-Series. Instead, it will likely be used for BMW’s next Z4, which may end up radically different to the current car and perhaps see a name change.

According to Autocar, BMW will largely be responsible for developing the chassis while Toyota will be responsible for the hybrid technology, which instead of storing recaptured engine in a battery will store it in a super-capacitor. Such a setup is used in Toyota’s Le Mans prototypes competing in the World Endurance Championship and was previewed recently in the Yaris Hybrid-R concept.

The super-capacitors are much lighter than conventional batteries and can absorb and discharge electrical energy much faster, which is better suited for the sudden bursts of acceleration sports car drivers enjoy. The new Supra/Z4 duo would be the tech's first production application.

BMW will reportedly use its own engine for the next Z4. The engine will be mounted up front and spin the rear wheels while an electric drive system powered by the super-capacitors will power the front wheels, essentially making the car a ‘through-the-road’ all-wheel-drive hybrid. The German automaker will also employ lightweight construction technology for much of the body, using lessons learned from developing its i3 and i8 models.

Interestingly, Autocar reports that BMW and Toyota are expected to continue using common engineering solutions and shared components going forward. Make of that what you will.

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