Toyota previews new family of battery EVs with bZ4X concept

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 19 Apr 2021


Toyota today revealed a concept version of the forthcoming Toyota bZ4X at the Shanghai Motor Show, previewing the first in a series of zero-emission battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The Toyota bZ4X, a medium-size SUV with all-wheel drive, is integral to Toyota’s transition from a pure car company to a business dedicated to delivering better mobility for all.

The ‘bZ’ is an abbreviation of ‘beyond Zero’, reinforcing Toyota’s commitment not only to achieving zero carbon emissions and carbon neutrality, but also going beyond to realise new benefits for the environment, for individuals and for society as a whole.

The new Toyota bZ4X Concept has been developed by Toyota in partnership with Subaru, drawing on the specific skills and experience of each company. Sales of the production version are expected to commence around the middle of 2022.

Exterior design
The Toyota bZ4X Concept’s exterior design anticipates people’s high expectations of an electric vehicle driving experience that requires no compromises. There is a high driving position characteristic of SUVs and the bodywork presents is combined with precise and high-tech styling.

The front of the car dispenses with the familiar grille and instead features an arrangement of sensors, lights and aero elements in a distinctive ‘hammerhead’ form, generating a new attitude and road presence.

Spacious cabin and ‘drive module’
The Toyota bZ4X Concept is built on the new e-TNGA modular platform, developed specifically for electric vehicles. A long wheelbase and short overhangs help create a notably spacious and open cabin. In fact, rear legroom is similar to that of a large D-segment model.

The front cabin is designed around a ‘drive module’ which gives the driver a sense of direct connection to the road and to important information. The low-set instrument panel opens up panoramic visibility and emphasises the sense of space. Controls are grouped around the centre console, designed for easy recognition and operation. The digital driver’s instrument display is positioned above the steering wheel, so only minimal eye movement is required to register information.

With over 20 years of experience in vehicle electrification, Toyota says it has ensured the electric powertrain – motor, control unit and battery management system – deliver class-leading efficiency and a very competitive driving range.

The car’s environmental profile is further strengthened by an on-board solar charging system, which enhances the distance that can be covered. Thanks to Toyota’s extensive experience in developing battery technology for its hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric models, the larger, more powerful battery required for Toyota bZ4X Concept has been engineered for reliable, lasting performance, maintaining the car’s driving range, even in cold climates.

e-SUV with high AWD capability
The all-wheel drive system, delivered by electric motors on the front and rear axles, has been developed together with Subaru. The rich heritage and deep expertise of both Toyota and Subaru have been combined to deliver a best-in-class all-wheel drive capability that sets the Toyota bZ4X Concept apart in its segment. The system gives genuine off-road capability that also provides extra security and peace of mind for drivers in all on-road conditions.

Advanced steer-by-wire system
Toyota bZ4X Concept will be available with a world-first combination of a steering yoke and a steer-by-wire system.  This technology gives the driver greater control, removing interference from rough road surfaces and braking, and thus more precise response in line with the vehicle’s speed and steering angle.

Steer-by-wire also dispenses with the traditional, circular steering wheel, replacing it with a different shape ‘yoke’ control, so the driver no longer has to move their hands around the wheel as they make a turn, adding to the car’s fun-to-drive quality.

bZ4X: first of 15 BEVs from Toyota

The Toyota bZ4X Concept is the first model to feature Toyota’s new bZ – beyond Zero – naming convention. By 2025, Toyota aims to introduce 15 battery electric vehicles, including seven Toyota bZ models.

This new series of battery electric vehicles will allow people to change from their current vehicle with no inconvenience, while realising all the benefits a fully electric car can offer. Chief Engineer Toyoshima explains: “This is not just about contributing to the environment by being a zero-emission vehicle but giving value ‘beyond Zero’ emissions by making driving easier and more fun.”

Toyota bZ models will also help achieve the goal of carbon neutrality. This refers to approaches and initiatives aimed at neutralising CO2 emissions from the entire vehicle lifecycle, including manufacturing, distribution, use, recycling and final disposal.

By 2025, Toyota will offer more than 70 electrified vehicles in its global portfolio, including at least 15 battery electric vehicles.

In Europe, this will translate into a powertrain mix that is more than 70 per cent hybrid by 2025; more than 10 per cent plug-in hybrids and more than 10 per cent zero-emission models – both battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles.