Toyota's new bZ (Beyond Zero) electric vehicle line-up will be heavily differentiated from the brand's existing models, with bespoke styling and a unique interior design ethos. The Japanese carmaker unveiled the first bZ model, the new bZ4X electric SUV concept, at the 2021 Shanghai Auto show.
Seven new models will be launched under the bZ nameplate by 2025
New bZ models won’t be electric versions of existing Toyota models
Real world range of bZ models will be the same as the claimed range
Toyota bZ EV line-up: what to expect?
Toyota plans to launch 15 new battery-electric vehicles by 2025, and seven of those will wear the bZ nameplate – which is comparable in its conception to Mercedes' EQ brand, Hyundai's Ioniq models and Volkswagen's ID family.
"We have decided to create what we can call a 'sub-brand': a new breed of vehicles [...] with quite consistent design language and, ultimately, a consistent consumer experience," explained marketing and product development boss for Toyota Europe, Andrea Carlucci. "And fundamentally, this breed of vehicles will belong to a family which cannot be associated to other vehicles."
That means that, while the new bZ4X concept is of a similar size – and bears a considerable resemblance – to the conventionally fuelled RAV4 SUV, bZ cars are not intended to replace legacy models, nor are they set to be sold as electric versions of existing models. Each will be based on the new e-TNGA electric vehicle architecture, which Toyota has developed in partnership with Subaru.
There are four 'pillars' underpinning the bZ brand and they will be common to all models – renewable energy usage, advanced connectivity, spaciousness and positive societal impact. They will also have a "quite consistent design language" and "consumer experience", according to Carlucci.
"The vehicles will give a strong priority to the interaction between man and machine: the meter [digital display] is positioned above the wheel, the concept has the butterfly-shaped steer-by-wire device, there's the driving position.”
"But also, because of the dedicated platform, the interior space can be managed in a different way versus ICE or even hybrid vehicles. All the occupants in the vehicle can share the same experience and have the same point of view as the driver, in certain elements."
Toyota’s bZ EV line-up: what will the range be like?
Under the surface, Toyota's electric cars will be marked out from rivals, Carlucci says, by giving "what is promised" in terms of range. The brand has considered a range of possible usage patterns and operating environments for its EVs, and claims to offer "reliable, lasting performance" even in cold climates.
"This is where, fundamentally, we want to say: 'if you promise X kilometres, it's not about promising something which, on paper, is hard to get in reality. That, for us, is quite critical, and this will be the signature of this new breed of vehicles in the bZ sub-brand," he said.
A range for the bZ4X SUV has not been given, but a solar panel has been integrated into the roof for off-charge energy top-ups and will likely be carried to production.
Toyota in India
Toyota recently launched the refreshed Innova and the facelifted Fortuner SUV in India. Apart from these two, Toyota India also retails the Glanza hatchback, the Yaris sedan, the Urban Cruiser compact SUV, the Camry Hybrid sedan and the Vellfire MPV.
In 2021, the company is expected to introduce an all-new sedan based on the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz. Also on the cards is the carmaker’s Hilux pick-up truck.
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