Toyota has released the bZ4X Concept, the first EV built on the company’s e-TNGA platform for EVs and co-developed with Subaru.
As early reports have indicated the bZ4X appears about the size of the best-selling RAV4 Hybrid—or a future version of it, perhaps—and Toyota says that worldwide sales of the model will start globally by the middle of 2022.
According to presentations for other markets, the bZ name refers to “before zero,” although Toyota hasn’t yet detailed whether it might be a separate sub-brand or how it might fit into the company’s lineup of gasoline vehicles. Toyota is using model nomenclature—led by lower-case letters—it’s previously used within its Scion small-car brand.
Toyota e-TNGA propulsion layouts
Specs include few if any numbers, with no information yet on battery pack or estimated range. But Toyota confirmed that the b4X has a long wheelbase with short overhangs and an all-wheel drive system jointly developed with Subaru. The concept also has a solar recharging system that helps recharge the vehicle when it’s stationary.
Toyota, which has been especially cautious in rolling out fully electric models for significant production volume, says that the bZ “takes on a "human-centered" approach aimed at widespread use in regions such as China, the U.S., and Europe, where there is significant demand for BEVs, and where there is a large supply of renewable electricity.”
Toyota BZ4X concept - 2021 Shanghai auto show
“To achieve carbon neutrality in the automotive industry, it is indispensable to integrate energy policies such as renewable energy and charging infrastructure, with industrial policies such as vehicle purchase subsidies, supplier support, and battery recycling systems,” says the parent company.
Within the bZ4X Concept, Toyota points to the low position of the instrument panel, and a “uniquely shaped” steering wheel that eliminates the need to change grip while steering. The model will also have a steer-by-wire system—pointing to future autonomous applications perhaps.
Toyota electric crossover teaser
Toyota says that it will offer 70 “electrified models” by 2025—a number that appears to include hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cell models. The company has said that 15 of those will be battery electric vehicles, including seven Toyota bZ models. And two of those EVs are headed to the U.S. in 2021.
A production model based on the bZ4X will be one of those models, to be produced in China and Japan.