Are Small Disputes Putting BMW’s Partnerships In Jeopardy?

Editorial

Don’t worry, the Z4 and Supra aren’t going anywhere…for now.

The German car giants may be in the midst of a crisis of alleged collusion, but that doesn’t mean that Bavarian-bred automakers like BMW are in a rush to stop working with other manufacturers by spending on new technologies and filling niche segments to maximize return on investment. The trick to getting away with it is to do it on paper using legal partnerships rather than under the table price fixing deals so that regulators have no reason to worry. But as Automobile Magazine points out, that’s a more difficult a process than it looks.

Though the partnership BMW has with Toyota seems to be chugging along just fine—the Z4 concept looking as enticing as ever and the upcoming Supra sparking our imaginations every time it’s caught circling the Nurburgring—some of the company’s other attempts at sharing research and development costs have fallen through. For the most part, partnerships between manufacturers are a good thing. Sure, they make it so that homogenization stamps out the individual character of a brand by the time it makes it to the dealership, but past examples like the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ marriage or the Mazda MX-5 and Fiat 124 Spider arrangement show that collaboration can yield excellent results if it’s done correctly.

You Might Also Like
The Greatest Turbocharged Cars Of All Time
The Greatest Turbocharged Cars Of All Time
10 Cars That Started Life As Race Cars
10 Cars That Started Life As Race Cars

BMW, on the other hand, has a few failure stories of its own that show how difficult the process can be. One of these failings involves none other than its good friend Toyota. Though the Z4/Supra deal could end up as a shining example of group participation, plans to work together on a small car platform seem to have fallen through completely. The problem here, according to Automobile, is the fact that both automakers are taking different approaches to how each will adapt to the coming changes in the auto industry. Toyota seems to be banking big on hydrogen fuel cell technology while BMW is headed towards electrification in full force. It’s clashes like these that are responsible for killing off a BMW/McLaren partnership for a supercar.

Back in the day, BMW supplied the British automaker with the V12 powerplant used in the legendary three-seat McLaren F1, lauded by many as the world’s first hypercar. The plan was to put a BMW body, likely with kidney grilles intact, onto the carbon tub of a McLaren Super Series (like the 720S). BMW would supply its own cylinder heads and redo the interior to suit its Germanic tastes, but that plan has fallen through thanks to changing Bavarian philosophies on powertrains. “It’s a great piece of kit,” said a senior BMW manager in reference to the McLaren/BMW mashup. “But we came to the conclusion that it is the wrong car for these fast moving times.”

In lieu of the partnership, BMW wants to go its own route with a vehicle that features a more advanced powertrain and relies more heavily on electrification. That doesn’t mean that BMW is looking to stop working with other automakers, especially when the payoffs are so large. Pending projects with JLR for high powered V8 engines could materialize in performance variants making upwards of 600 horsepower, while BMW’s small car hopes could be achieved through a partnership with Chinese automaker Great Wall. The latter of those deals will be harder to pull off given BMW’s expectations of quality and China’s reputation for lacking just that, but Germany hasn't written it off the possibility just yet.

Given the sales volumes that hang in the balance (up to half a million cars all things considered) those dollar signs might become the ultimate form of diplomacy between the brands. More than making money, however, partnerships do one thing that divided automakers working for their own benefit cannot: preserve the modern day auto industry machine in the face of changes that are making industry insiders squeamish about its future. In the face of absolute destruction, even mortal enemies can come together and fight to survive.

Fake Lamborghini Murcielago SV Reverse-Engineered By Iran

The Chinese couldn’t have done it better.

Hennessey Trackhawk Is World's Quickest SUV

That's what a thousand horsepower will do for ya.

5 Things You Need To Know About The 2019 BMW X5

After driving the car for the first time, here are our key takeaways.

Watch The BMW M2 Competition Lap The Ring In 7:52

That was supercar territory not long ago.

Kim Jong-un Gets Classy With New Ride

So much for sanctions.

Drifting A 1,000-HP Corvette On Mountain Roads Takes Some Serious Skill

Thought drifting the entire Nurburgring was challenging? Try it in a 1,000-hp Corvette on a mountain road with no safety rails.

Hennessey Heritage Edition Ford Truck Makes More Power Than Anything You’ve Got

This crazy beast is even more powerful than the Ford GT.

Ford Imagines A Future With No Traffic Lights

Stopping at junctions could be a thing of the past in the future.

What's Hot

Related Cars

Starting MSRP
TBC
Starting MSRP
TBC

Related Reviews

2017 BMW Z4 Review
BMW Z4 Roadster
0
2017 BMW Z4 Review