TOKYO -- Subaru brand chief Yasuyuki Yoshinaga dismissed the idea of a convertible Subaru BRZ sporty coupe, saying the vehicle would require a complete remake to meet safety standards.
His slap-down came as Toyota Motor Corp., which sells a rebadged version of the car as the Scion FR-S, showed its own drop-top concept down the aisle at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Yoshinaga is president of Subaru-brand parent Fuji Heavy Industries, which makes the BRZ and FR-S at its Gumma factory in Japan. He said his company wouldn't build a convertible variant for either company.
"We make the car, so if we don't make it, it can't happen," Yoshinaga said at the show today."Our engineering department told me that losing the entire roof requires a complete redesign of the structure. It would need a big change."
Subaru's vocal skepticism and Toyota's persistent teasing of a convertible concept suggest an underlying clash for creative control of the zippy little car.
The two companies joined forces on the project, with Toyota contributing the design and styling and Subaru doing the drivetrain, layout and manufacturing. The production model debuted at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.
Toyota has dangled a convertible concept of its FR-S, also called the Toyota 86 or Toyota GT86 in different markets, at several motor shows. But it has always remained noncommittal.
A convertible concept called the FT-86 Open debuted this year at the Geneva motor show. And a version appeared at this week's Tokyo show with an electrically operated soft top.
Yoshinaga seemed unmoved.
"I understand well that Toyota is receiving strong requests from the American market for the car," he said. "But the biggest challenge is meeting our internal safety standards. There are big technical difficulties."