German automaker BMW is discontinuing production of its Z4 two-seat roadster, but a replacement for the model is expected to be launched in the next four years, reports Automotive News.

Declining sales are at the heart of the decision to axe the Z4; North American and European sales decreased more than 10 percent last year, with Canadian sales of the roadster dropping to just 121 units from peak sales of 521 back in 2004.

“If you look at the volume … we have to realize that these segments are shrinking,” said Klaus Froehlich, BMW head of research and development. He attributes the drop in sales to both a stuttering global economy and a lack of interest in roadsters in China, the world’s largest car market.

Chinese car buyers have been shying away from roadsters for reasons of both privacy and pollution, preferring hardtop sedans and sports cars over open-top alternatives.

The Munich-based manufacturer’s replacement for the Z4 is likely to be born from the recent technology partnership forged between BMW and Toyota, and will likely sport Z5 badging, in keeping with BMW’s nomenclature. A Toyota-badged version of the car will likely wear a resurrected Supra nameplate.

The Z4 is unique in that it is the first BMW design project on which the two lead stylists were women.

(Automotive News)