ANALYSIS: Is Toyota planning a BMW-based Lexus roadster?
The LF-LC concept at this year's Detroit show provided clues for Lexus' future styling direction. Might it have also have partially previewed a forthcoming roadster?
A 'sports vehicle' is among the projects that BMW AG and Toyota Motor Corporation announced as part of their new collaboration earlier on 29 June. Will this mean a new Lexus roadster to be twinned with the BMW Z4 replacement?
Neither the current nor previous generation Z4s have been strong sellers so it makes sense for BMW to seek out an alliance partner to share the development costs of the successor model. The Z4 is due to receive a mid-life facelift later in 2012, meaning the replacement model should appear some time in 2015 - presuming engineering work begins straight away, three years' time would seem about right for the likely launch date for this new 'sports vehicle'.
The current Z4 is manufactured alongside the 1 Series and 3 Series at Regensburg but it is not yet known where the roadster's successor will be built. The possibilities include the same plant or else a return to Spartanburg - the previous car was made, plus the world's largest national market for sports models such as the Z4 and its rivals seems likely to remain the US.
Lexus has never had an entrant in a segment which includes the much-admired Porsche Boxster and it is known that TMC president Akio Toyoda is particularly keen on shifting the brand's image more towards one of performance-with-luxury. If we start seeing more Porsche-sized Lexus concepts in the coming year or two, we'll know what that 'sports vehicle' or even sports vehicles BMW and Toyota say they are about to start co-developing on a bespoke platform.
Author: Glenn Brooks