Toyota and Subaru have postponed production of their jointly developed sports coupe in the wake of the new car sales slump.

The ‘Toyobaru’ - a 2+2 that could become the spiritual successor to the Supra – will not arrive until 2012 at the earliest, according to reports. That’s a delay of at least 18 months.

“We’re discussing with Fuji Heavy the timing for the start of production and other details,” is all Hideaki Homma, a Toyota spokesperson, would tell reporters.

Toyota recently doubled its stake in Subaru’s parent company Fuji Heavy Industry to 15 per cent. But Japan’s biggest car maker has posted an unexpected loss for the year and is reluctant to embark on any risky projects.

The plan was for Fuji Heavy Industry to build the coupe for both Toyota and Subaru. Both models would have had different styling and marketing. The designs were thought to be at an advanced stage and test mules have been spotted.

But as Japan’s domestic market continue to contract, analysts are predicting the project will be shelved for some time.