QOTD: How Will Sports Cars Survive In The "Kit Age"?

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
qotd how will sports cars survive in the kit age

Yes, we know that you’ve all been bombarded with endless stories about modular kits these last few days. While there is a camp of skeptics out there, the move towards modular architectures is happening, and it’s going to have an effect on the way that sports cars are made. My theory is below, feel free to disagree with it.

As companies move towards these kits as a means of standardization, cars are going to become ever more homogenous. Good for profit margins, but potentially not so good for those who like interesting, fun to drive cars. In a previous era, it used to be that sports cars could have their own distinct platform, powertrains etc, but today’s scale requirements have made that next to impossible.

The middle ground is something like the Nissan Z-car. Based on the Nissan FM platform, it still drives well and looks pretty sharp, but its impossible to escape its roots; since it shares a platform not just with the G37 but the FX crossover as well, everything needs to be beefed up appropriate, and that made the car unnecessarily heavy.

Now that pretty much all cars are moving to some kind of kit architecture, there are two possibilities: develop a longitudinal kit, ala Audi’s MLB architecture, or follow the Toyota-Subaru arrangement of jointy developing a sports car.

I think that this is going to become an increasingly common occurrence in the next few years. We already have the upcoming Toyota-BMW sports car as well as the Fiat-Mazda MX5/Alfa Romeo Spider. Mazda may be a small player, but if Toyota, BMW and Fiat find it hard to justify the investment costs on their own without resorting to a partnership agreement, that should tell you something about what it costs to develop a sports car and how little ROI they typically see from it.

From where I sit, the joint-venture method looks like the best way out. For traditionalists, it will be very strange: a BMW-developed MKV Supra seems as odd to me as the European practice of dipping French Fries in mayonnaise. But the auto industry seems to be moving towards this with increasing speed. Better get used to. Unless there’s another way out.

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5 of 64 comments
  • Kyree Kyree on Jun 20, 2013

    Today's market seems brutal for niche vehicles, particularly sports cars. It becomes harder and harder to justify dedicated vehicles, and what you end up with are cars---or whole platforms, as with the aforementioned Nissan front-midship platform---that are jacks of many trades, and masters of none. It makes for a whole bunch of rather unmemorable products, if you ask me.

  • Juicy sushi Juicy sushi on Jun 21, 2013

    I think the future of sports cars is bright so long as we don't limit ourselves to sports cars as being front-engine, rear-wheel-drive. With the advances in light-weight materials turning the tide against car bloat, and fuel economy requirements blunting the horsepower war we will see traditional sports car attributes returning. To me at least that would mean an emphasis on emotional stimulation and fun over penis substitution through horsepower. However, the cars will more likely be in either the hot-hatch/CRX mould, or like the original Toyota MR2 (essentially a two-seat Corolla with the drivetrain flipped). If anything, kit production methods make the idea more viable. The parts bin would be deeper and production costs/complications reduced. At least, that's how I see it. Now if only Honda would wake up, dump the new NSX and build me an EV-Ster with the motor from the next Civic Type-R. Seriously, what's cool about $100k exotics? $30k exotics are much greater achievements.

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that