“The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales, said in an interview at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Munich. “Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover.”
 In Europe and North America, the car’s role as a status symbol has diminished, with SUVs and crossovers becoming ever more popular.
 In China and emerging markets, Robertson said hot weather, pollution and a penchant for chauffeur-driven limousines have made sports cars less popular among richer clients.
 Despite the downturn, selling a car built for speed and performance — priced at a relatively high margin — is an important part of building a brand’s allure. That’s why BMW, known for turning out sporty luxury vehicles, is teaming up with Toyota Motor Corp. to share development costs on a new midsize sports car, Robertson said. The duo said last week their project has moved to the concept stage after completing a feasibility study. They declined to provide details.

More front drivers on the way….