Toyota’s first electric car in Australia has been unveiled. Here are the most important things you need to know.
Nearly 25 years after introducing gasoline-electric hybrid technology to the mass market with the Toyota Prius, the world’s largest automaker has unveiled its first electric vehicle designed for global sale, 2023 Toyota BZ4X.
With the BZ4X on its way to Australian showrooms in late 2022, here are 10 details you may or may not know about Toyota’s first mass-produced electric car.
This is not Toyota’s first electric car
While the BZ4X may be Toyota’s first electric car to be built in mass production – and sold in all major global markets – it’s not the Japanese giant’s first electric car.
Instead, it goes in honor of the RAV4 EV, a redesigned zero-emission version of the well-known RAV4, sold across two generations from 1997-2003 and 2012-14 in an effort to meet strict emission regulations and targets in California. Nearly 4,000 copies were built, comprising 1484 copies of the first generation car and 2489 of the second.
In an interesting twist, the second generation of the RAV4 EV was developed together with Tesla – a company that BZ4X ten years later has been designed specifically to challenge.
The first two letters of the BZ4X’s name refer to ‘beyond Zero’ (officially stylized bZ), Toyota’s new sub-brand for battery-powered vehicles.
No explanation has been given for the ‘4X’ component of the vehicle’s name, but with seven new electric cars coming from Toyota’s BZ division in 2025, the branding is likely to make room for smaller and larger cars and SUVs’. is. Trademarks have already been registered for names ranging from ‘BZ1’ to ‘BZ5’ and ‘BZ1X’ to ‘BZ5X’.
3. It sits on a dedicated electrical platform
Underlying Toyota’s new electric vehicle is a brand new ‘e-TNGA’ platform, a “skateboard-style” architecture designed specifically for electric vehicles, developed in collaboration with Subaru.
The battery is placed low and flat in the vehicle floor – lowers the center of gravity to help with sharper handling – while a new ‘E-axle’ setup sees the electric motor, gearbox and inverter components integrated in one unit on the axle, rather than as separate objects.
The Toyota BZ4X measures 4690 mm long, 1860 mm wide and 1650 mm high and drives at a wheelbase of 2850 mm.
Compared to a Toyota RAV4, the new EV is overall 90 mm longer, 5 mm wider and 35 mm lower, but sits at a longer wheelbase that fits the larger, seven-seater Kluger, which is approximately 300 mm longer bumper-to -bumper.
The long wheelbase and relatively ‘short’ bodywork should translate into increased interior space for passengers and cargo, with Toyota citing “class-leading” legroom at the front and rear.
Instead of a traditional circular steering wheel, Chinese buyers can opt for a “steering yoke”, an abbreviated design inspired by aircraft and modern Formula 1 racing cars (pictured above), along with the latest Tesla Model S and Model X electric cars recently introduced in USA.
While the Tesla ‘yoke’ is connected to a traditional handlebar that allows multiple ‘hand-over-hand’ rotations of the wheel, the BZ4X pairs its yoke with a steer-by-wire system where a physical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels is replaced of intelligent electronics that interpret and translate the driver’s movements to change the direction of the vehicle.
The result is only a 150-degree turn from lock to lock – or less than a quarter turn in both directions – which Toyota says “eliminates the need to change grip when steering, which greatly reduces the burden on the driver in U-turns, garage parking and on winding roads “.
6. Two power options are available
Buyers can choose between front and four-wheel drive that offers 150 kW / 265 Nm from a single electric motor in the former or 160 kW from two electric motors in the latter.
A battery pack will be available at launch, a 71.4 kWh lithium-ion device that is good for up to 500 km range according to Japan’s typically mild WLTC test procedures.
7. Battery life is key
Toyota aims for “top-class” battery life under the new BZ4X, where the brand aims to maintain 90 percent of capacity after 10 years of use, or 240,000 km of driving – whichever comes first.
It is still unknown whether the figure of 90 percent remains a target under ideal conditions, or will be introduced as an official guarantee. The competitor Volkswagen has distorted the latter for its ID electric cars, guaranteeing that 70 percent of a vehicle’s original battery capacity will be retained after eight years or 160,000 km.
8. There is an optional solar cell roof
A solar cell roof can be selected in certain markets, which are claimed to “generate electricity equivalent to 1800 km driving distance per year”, with the roof able to increase range even when the vehicle is off.
“[It] can recharge in parking lots where there are no charging stations, and solar energy can be used to recharge in disasters or other emergencies, “Toyota adds in its media footage.
9. The BZ4X will give birth to a Subaru twin
The development of the Toyota BZ4X – and the e-TNGA platform – has been implemented as a partnership between Toyota and Subaru. As a result, Subaru will offer its own version of the BZ4X, known as the Subaru Solterra, with differences between the vehicles to consist of a unique front-end design and revised light signatures.
Toyota and Subaru are no strangers to the development of joint venture vehicles, with brands sharing the engineering costs of two generations of 86 and BRZ sports cars over the past decade.
While both the BZ4X and Solterra will be launched abroad next year, the Subaru model is not yet planned for Australian showrooms.
10. It’s coming to Australia
The Toyota BZ4X will make its way to Australia, the Japanese car giant has confirmed, with the first cars tipped to arrive in showrooms in the final months of 2022.
Key details, including pricing, have not yet been confirmed, but it is likely that Toyota will look to position the vehicle in the same way as its electric SUV competition, led by the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which spans $ 71,900 to $ 75,900 before on-road. costs locally.