QOTD: Manufacturer Cooperation - Cash Saver, or Corrosive Cancer?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd manufacturer cooperation cash saver or corrosive cancer

Cooperation and borrowing between auto manufacturers is nothing new, and it isn’t always a bad thing. For example, look what happened in the 1980s when Lincoln borrowed a BMW inline-six turbodiesel for its Continental Mark VII luxury coupe. Oh, maybe that’s not the best example. But two events this week have led to a couple of new examples for us to ponder.

How do you think these cooperative automotive projects will fare?

Times are tough and profits are thin. Manufacturing cars is difficult and expensive with regard to safety, environmental, and government considerations. Factories are closing, models are being discontinued. As a result of these and other factors, OEMs are partnering up with one another.

Case 1: Toyota unveiled its new 2020 Supra at NAIAS, after what seemed like four years of teaser photos and intense speculation. Absent from the press release information — a mention of how the Supra was developed in conjunction with BMW, and will be built at a BMW factory alongside the Z4 pictured above (available in 2019). Supra comes standard with a BMW inline-six engine, and the hard points of the car are much more Z4 in their nature than Supra. It’s what everyone wanted!

Case 2: Ford and Volkswagen announced their new plan for cooperation on Tuesday. After much negotiation, the two companies have agreed to build a pickup truck together. Volkswagen is interested in Ford’s truck skills, and Ford is interested in VW’s electrification and autonomous knowledge. If all goes well, the companies will perhaps build a next-generation Ranger-Amarok. Perhaps they’ll call it Ranrok.

In both of these cases, the idea behind the jointly developed vehicles is to make the most of the core competencies of their respectively joined partners while simultaneously saving both companies money. Therein lies today’s question: Will those claims end up being true?

Is the Supra as good as it could’ve been if Toyota was on its own, free to use its own clean-sheet design, and its own engine? Will a Ranger with a VW-sourced interior impress, while creating better economies of scale? Or are these sorts of co-op projects just destined to create milquetoast results; compromises which truly please very few people? Off to you.

[Images: Toyota, BMW, Ford]

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2 of 88 comments
  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jan 16, 2019

    Cooperation is one thing, but a car as iconic as the Supra needs to maintain it's identity. Honestly, I think if it had a boosted Toyota motor under the hood there would be far less complaining. Even if it was a Turbos V6 vs the inline 6 (The Nissan Z managed this change) I think folks would be a lot less cynical. Now if Ford slaps Taurus badges on a Passat...who cares, it is an appliance car, but slap Mustang badges on an Audi and folks will loose it. Cars marketed to car people, like the Supra have a different standard.

  • Trackratmk1 Trackratmk1 on Jan 17, 2019

    Modular inline engines is the next internal combustion shift - Mercedes is doing it already, switching from V-configurations to inline 4’s and 6’s that share the same block casts plus/minus two pots. It’s cost effective and has the premium refinement of an inline on the 6 cyl applications. Why Toyota didn’t get ahead of the curve and just suck it up and develop a next gen in-line 6 that’s modular with their next gen 4’s is a mystery. It could have been used in everything from their Camry (i know Camry is transverse and can’t fit an inline, but a high-po turbo 4 is fine for their top trim camry, just drop the 6 completely there) to the Tacoma... boost it enough and put it in the Land Cruiser FFS. If a turbo 6 is good enough for a Raptor AND a Ford GT, it’s good enough for Toyota’s car/truck lineup.

  • Frank Sounds like they dont want to debut it at the same time as the new Land Cruiser, which is probably smart. The new 'runner is ready to go I am told, so there's a reason for this delay.
  • IH_Fever My cousin bought a new 4runner 2 weeks ago. It is not much different than my mom's 2010. If it ain't broke, why fix it has always been toyota's motto. What's funny is even the salesman told my cousin "get the current one, when the engine changes there will probably be some issues with the first ones." Gotta be the most honest guy to ever sell a car.
  • Ajla They should just keep making this version forever. The next Tacoma and Land Cruiser have the new tech stuff covered.
  • CoastieLenn I still don't completely understand why Toyota left the 4.0 in the 4R when the Taco on which it's based got the arguably more efficient and stout 3.5.
  • FreedMike Same guys who were charging $15,000 over sticker day in, day out for the last two years? Cry me a river, fellas.