Assistant chief engineer explains the importance of partnerships in performance car development.
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Despite carrying serious brand cachet, the new BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra wouldn't exist if the brands didn't collaborate on development of their respective models.

Speaking to media at the first drive of the 2019 Toyota Supra, assistant chief engineer Masayuki Kai told journalists that it's a sad reality that in today's day and age, sports cars need co-development to make business sense.

"It is so difficult to make a feasible business case. We were lucky we found a good partner like BMW and so without BMW we would not revive the Supra and so, vice versa for BMW, because sports cars need a lot of specific cars that you can not use for other family cars and as a result we are quite restricted [in terms of developing a new car]," Kai said.


"So if you want to make a sports car it's very expensive, so you need to find a partner that you can share the costs with. Unless you have a long, long history like Mazda, having never stopped developing the MX-5, you can't develop a small volume sports car for cheap."

It's definitely not a dig at Mazda, but it makes sense that if brands want to develop emotive cars that push the sports car image, it's hard to justify the huge cost behind building an engine that can only be used in that single model.

What it does offer, on the other hand, is the ability to work on a unique product in the future if the nameplate becomes a success. It's worth remembering that Toyota sold less than 3000 Supras in Australia over a 10 year period – it was a relatively expensive car at the time.

Is there another brand you think needs to revive an iconic sports car? Who should they team up with?