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As BMW has been busy building four-door versions of two-door versions of four-door cars, less useful crossovers and front-drive minivans, you could be forgiven for thinking it had given up on its aging Z4 roadster. But that, we're pleased to report, isn't the case.

According to Automotive News, BMW is hoping to release the next-generation Z4 (if that's what it ends up being called) before the close of this decade. The news outlet spoke to the company's chief engineer, Klaus Fröhlich, at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, who indicated that BMW may split costs on the new car with Toyota, as part of the partnership between the two automakers.

This partnership is integral to the next-gen Z4, largely because of the declining importance of the roadster segment, Herr Fröhlich indicated.

"If you look at the volume... we have to realize that these segments are shrinking," Fröhlich told AN. According to the publication, sales of the Z4, which hit the market in its current form back in 2009, dropped 11 percent in Europe and 13 percent in North America. The car also is less attractive to customers in China for a number of reasons.

"[Chinese customers] are not interested in roadsters," Fröhlich explained. That's because privacy is a high priority for drivers in China, AN said. On top of that, open-roof cars expose their customers to China's notorious air pollution, which drivers are understandably keen to avoid.

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