Toyota announces bZ4X: carmaker’s first mass-produced electric vehicle | Electric vehicles

Toyota has released details of its first mass-produced electric vehicle in a significant step for the world’s second largest automaker.

bZ4X is an SUV with optional roof solar panels that will be sold in both front-wheel or four-wheel drive variants.

The public got their first look at the concept of the bZ4X – “bZ” stands for “beyond zero” – at the Shanghai Motor Show in April this year, but Toyota first announced the details of the car on Friday.

The announcement is a step forward for Toyota, which has been slower to move into purely battery-powered electric cars than its competitors, and instead relies on hybrid technology.

Although the car is not Toyota’s first electrified vehicle – that title was held by the short-lived RAV4 EV – it marks the first electric vehicle that will directly compete with industrial rivals such as the Hyundai Ioniq and Tesla Model Y.

Toyota is already producing the second generation of the Mirai, an electrified vehicle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

bZ4X launches in Europe on December 2, with orders to be placed upon reservation. It is expected that the model will go into series production from the middle of next year across “all regions of the world” – although the exact timing, price and available variants have not yet been released. Toyota expects this to represent an expanded range of 70 electrified vehicles by 2025.

Subaru was involved in developing the vehicle and is expected to unveil its own EV model next year.

BZX4 is expected to arrive in Australia by the end of 2022. As Australia’s most popular car brand, the model is expected to help Toyota take a dominant position in the country’s growing electric car market, as its competitors have been deterred by a lack of clear political leadership in the transition.

Hybrid cars accounted for nearly a third of Toyota’s total sales in Australia this year. The bZ4x will be the first of 15 planned zero-emission vehicles offered by Toyota, including seven bZ models.

The front-wheel drive version comes with a 150kw engine with a torque of 265 Nm, capable of zero to 100 km / h in 8.4 seconds.

The four-wheel drive model is equipped with two 80 kW engines that produce a combined 160 kW and 336 Nm of torque that is capable of reaching from zero to 100 km / h in 7.7 seconds.

Both variants will have a top speed of 160 km / h and come with a 71.4 kWh battery that offers a range of around 500 km. Toyota says the 150 kW DC charger will allow the batteries to be 80% recharged in 30 minutes.

Solar panels can be built into the roof for use while driving or parked. Toyota says these panels will add an extra 1,800km of driving distance each year, while allowing the car to be charged when parked or where charging stations are not easily accessible.

Toyota's bZ4X comes with the option of a steering wheel
Toyota’s bZ4X comes with the option of a steering wheel, similar to the Tesla Model S.

With a length of 4.69 m, 1.65 m high and 1.86 m wide, the bZ4X will be similar in size to the Hyundai Ioniq.

Although the company has not released complete details about the interior, among the more unique aspects is the steer-by-wire system, which works without any direct mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the tires.

The technology is similar to the fly-by-wire system used by modern jets and means that the driver will only receive feedback from the road as they will not feel vibrations from the tires via the steering wheel.

This flight feel has been expanded with the option of a “yoke” steering wheel similar to the Tesla Model S. Toyota says its version will deliver better performance with 150-degree locking, so the driver does not have to change hand positions when turning.

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