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BMW and Toyota hybrid sports car plans move ahead

Last year, BMW and Toyota announced plans to co-develop a sports car. Those plans seem to be moving ahead.

Autocar reports that the project will yield a replacement for the BMW Z4, and the long-rumored successor to the Toyota Supra.

When news of this project last surfaced, it appeared BMW and Toyota would pool their efforts to create a more exotic supercar, but the appearance of the Totota FT-1 concept at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show does indicate that a more conventional sports car is in the works.

A previous report also hinted that Toyota would put the FT-1 into production using a newly-opened “skunkworks,” which would develop a smaller sports car for the brand as well.

There’s clearly a lot of intelligence chatter surrounding this car, but what will it actually be?

The BMW-Toyota (TBMW? Boyota?) twins will reportedly have a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, just like the FT-1 concept, the Supra, and the Z4. However, they will also have hybrid powertrains.

They will likely share a BMW-sourced gasoline engine of no more than 2.0 liters displacement, a sequential-manual transmission, and a novel hybrid system.

Previewed on the Toyota Yaris Hybrid R concept from the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the system will use supercapacitors to absorb and discharge kinetic energy, instead of batteries. This option was reportedly chosen because it is smaller and lighter than existing batteries, and can charge and discharge more quickly.

Multiple electric motors will give the car all-wheel drive. They’ll be manufactured by BMW to Toyota specifications, and the Japanese carmaker will supply control units that allow torque vectoring.

Meanwhile, BMW will design the chassis, using the expertise in lightweight materials it gain with the i3 electric city car and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car.

The chassis will reportedly be made from a mixture of steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber, while the body panels will be carbon fiber-reinforced plastic.

There’s no indication of when these hybrid sports car twins will arrive, but with this much technology and the legendary Toyota Supra name in the mix, they could be game changers.