Toyota unveils the new bZ4X crossover as part of a broad push into electrification. Here’s all the details on the next generation of Toyota EVs.
At the recent 2021 Shanghai Auto Show, Toyota unveiled their bZ4X EV concept, the first vehicle to debut under their new all-electric bZ sub-brand. While Toyota was once at the cutting edge of electrification, in more recent times it’s chosen a slow and steady approach when it comes to electric-only propulsion. Their stated goal is for Toyota to be carbon neutral by 2050. The new bZ brand represents a significant step forward for Toyota, a company trying to keep pace with the likes of GM and Volkswagen, both of which have set very ambitious electrification goals of their own.
In their accompanying press release, Toyota notes that their wide selection of hybrids account for roughly 40% of electrified vehicle sales in the US. Which is indeed impressive, but unlike Ford, Volkswagen, GM, Hyundai, and others, Toyota has yet to release an electric only vehicle. That is until the bZ4X arrives.
The new bZ line of Toyota EVs will be built on the new e-TNGA BEV (battery electric vehicle) platform. This platform has been jointly developed with Subaru and will also underpin Subaru’s electric vehicles, including the newly named Subaru Solterra EV. Toyota’s press release describes the upcoming vehicles as marrying the best qualities of both companies, Toyota’s reliability and durability with Subaru’s legendary all-wheel drive.
In addition to the long-term goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, Toyota says it will be rolling out 70 electrified models (including hybrids) by 2025, 15 of which will be full-electric vehicles as part of the bZ line. Of note, Toyota says they’ll be releasing both a hybrid and an electric truck.
Though Toyota hasn’t taken Ford’s line of taking already popular nameplates and electrifying them (see the Mustang Mach-E and new Ford Lightning), they’ve done the next best thing and start their electrification project with the familiar form of a compact crossover. Small wonder since their best-selling vehicle is the RAV4.
Similar in stature to the RAV4, the new bZ4X has a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs and actually more closely resembles the newest versions of the Toyota Mirai and Toyota Venza. Both of those vehicles offer compelling designs that feel just one notch down from Toyota’s Lexus brand. The same holds true for their interiors which flip the script on Toyota’s traditionally conservative, function forward cabins.
The bZ4X looks quite refined inside, featuring what Toyota refers to as an “open-concept” design. The low dash and instrument panel, Toyota says, is intended to improve outward visibility. There’s the obligatory infotainment screen, complete with rotary dial control and lots of sizeable auxiliary buttons. We’ll hope Toyota was wise enough to still include touchscreen functionality to their system.
In some images, there’s a yoke in place of a traditional steering wheel. It’s questionable on the upcoming Tesla Model S, it’s questionable here too. Either way, Toyota says the bZ4X will feature a steer-by-wire system.
In all, the bZ4X concept looks very much like it’s close to what will be the final production version. A few fake vents may move around, but the image from Toyota resemble a near finished product.
The new bZ4X and the bZ line as a whole mark an exciting and important turning point for Toyota. Consider for a moment what we’re likely to see over the next few years. Vehicles with Toyota’s build quality, Subaru all-wheel drive and handling, plus peppy hybrid and electric powertrains that deliver both efficiency and excitement. I’m pretty sure there’s a market out there for something like that.
The bZ4X is slated for a mid-2022 release.