How powerful, how fast? Toyota reveals final details of production bZ4X Battery Electric Vehicle
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Toyota has released more detail on the production version of the bZ4X, its first mainstream Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). The new model will go on sale in New Zealand towards the end of 2022 - the first of seven of bZ ("beyond Zero") models over the next four years.
However, don't expect a wholesale switch to BEV power from the Japanese maker, which says it is committed to "introducing sustainable vehicles practically" around the world, according to market needs. The bZ4X will be part of an electrified lineup that will include (from left, below) hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), petrol-electric hybrids, PHEVs and BEVs.
The bZ4X's BEV-dedicated platform was developed in partnership with Subaru (its version will be called Solterra). It's roughly equivalent to a RAV4 in size, and Toyota says it pursued car-like handling combined with the off-road ability expected of an SUV. The 71.4kWh battery is packed flat under the floor, with the "e-axle" integrating the motor, transaxle and inverter.
Both FWD and dual-motor AWD models will be available. The front motor makes 150kW, while the rear (AWD only) adds another 80kW. The battery can charge at a rate of up to 150kW on a compatible DC station; the maker also says it has aimed for 90 per cent retained battery capacity after a decade of use (approximately 240,000km). Range is 500km for the FWD and 460km for the AWD.
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A solar roof option can also assist in charging: enough for the equivalent of 1800km of driving distance per year. There's a DC external power supply function that means the bZ4x can supply high-output power to houses or for outdoor activities.
Toyota acknowledges it has adopted "Subaru's AWD technology" for the bZ4X, including X-Mode (as in the current Forester and Outback) with a new Grip-Control function calibrated especially for the BEV powertrain.
The FWD model can hit 100km/h in 8.4 seconds, while the more powerful AWD achieves the benchmark sprint in 7.7sec.
The flexibility of the BEV platform means cabin space equivalent to a large sedan, says Toyota - or class-leading front/rear legroom for medium SUVs. There's a dramatic change in the dashboard layout with a Peugeot-style arrangement of steering wheel and instruments: small wheel set relatively low, instruments up high in a "wing shape" binnacle.
Some versions will have steer-by-wire and even an aircraft-style "yoke" steering wheel, like the Tesla Model S Plaid (see gallery below). This feature will be rolled out in the Chinese market first, but added to other countries after its 2022 launch; there's just 150 degrees lock-to-lock, meaning the driver doesn't have to change hand position for tight manoeuvres.
The bZ4x will be a hero model for the brand. But Toyota NZ still emphasises that BEVs cannot be the only solution.
“Toyota’s electrification strategy has always been based on introducing the right solution, at the right time, and in the right market,” says Toyota NZ chief executive, Neeraj Lala.
“The addition of bZ4X expands our large range of electrified vehicles and is a major contributor in reducing our overall emissions profile.
“[But] Hybrid electric vehicles have proven to be the best transitionary low emission vehicle to bridge the gap while availability and affordability of Battery Electric Vehicles increase.
“In 2021, we plan to deliver a record 11,000 hybrid electric vehicles to customers, which has had a huge impact on the carbon footprint of our total fleet. However, demand remains high for utes and commercial vans, where lower emission alternatives are yet to become readily available at an affordable price for small businesses.
“Our commitment is to offer customers all powertrain options until lower emission alternatives become available and affordable, which will take some time, and is unlikely in the timeframes set under the new Clean Car scheme.”