BMW is eyeing to roll out a successor to its Z4 roadster before the end of the decade, development chief Klaus Froehlich told Automotive News Europe. The carmaker could share development costs with Toyota as partners. The carmakers have a cooperation deal that includes a common sports car architecture, collaboration on powertrain electrification and pooling of r&d on lightweight technologies.
BMW is trying to update the car in a cost-effective manner since global demand for two-seat roadsters and coupe has been dropping. “If you look at the volume … we have to realize that these segments are shrinking,” Froehlich said, noting that the body type is not popular in China, which is currently the largest auto market in the world.“
The unpopularity of such in China could be attributed to the preference of customers for privacy, which could be compromised when in a vehicle an open top. Likewise, driving in an open top is not preferable in many of China’s cities, no thanks to the issue of poor air quality.
Roadsters were once popular in Europe, where they were typically a second or third car in a household. But no thanks to the economic crisis that hit the region, fewer consumers have the means to acquire a second of third vehicle.
BMW saw sales of the Z4 drop 11 percent to just 5,300 cars in Europe in 2014, according to data from JATO Dynamics, in the US by 13 percent to 2,150 cars.
Because of these figures, BMW may not see a replacement of the current second-generation Z4 as a priority. The current Z4 has been offered since 2009. “I would like to see a Z4 successor in this decade,” the Froelich said.