Toyota did lose the plot concerning electric cars, but the Japanese giant is coming back with a vengeance! Now that it is back on track, Toyota is doing things the big by unleashing seven all-new EVs! What is the automaker’s strategy to win back the EV top spot? What do Toyota’s electric cars offer? Join us as we dive into the details of how Toyota reveals 7 all-new EVs that shock the entire car industry!
When you once led an entire industry but got overtaken by new entrants, the next thing is to stage a comeback. However, your comeback must be impressive for you to take your former crown back! No other company is more capable than Toyota to pull off the comeback it is planning! Unable to turn its early lead with hybrid EVs into a tangible market dominance, Toyota is now left to plot its return to the purely electric car segment. What does Toyota want to do?
For 20 years, Toyota rejected the very idea of EVs. The world’s most profitable large automaker argued that its gasoline hybrids would be the best and most practical way to slash vehicle emissions.
Until, that is, its hydrogen fuel-cell cars were ready for primetime in 2030 or so. But then Tesla happened. The California startup carmaker has quickly acquired millions of devoted fans and millions of cars on the road!
It will most likely become the first ground-up US carmaker in almost 100 years to survive! In mid-December, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, the major villain in the company’s sad history with EVs, presented his company’s new and expanded plans to boost its production of battery-electric vehicles. Toyoda made a lot of big-production and big- dollar promises. In the 25-minute media briefing, Toyoda set a goal of 3.5 million battery-electric vehicles a year by 2030, out of Toyota’s 10 million total globally.
The company would make no fewer than 30 different Toyota and Lexus models in all market segments! And in total, he pledged a whopping 70 billion dollars toward electrification! How does that compare to other legacy automakers also transitioning to electric vehicles? In July, Stellantis held an Electrification Day, in which it announced its own investment in EVs of 35 billion dollars globally.
We have also been treated to a show of General Motors and Ford engaging in sequential one-upmanship over which Detroit maker would invest the most in EV battery and assembly plants in the US!
Battery plants and dozens of all-EV models have been announced throughout Europe, too. The list of automakers’ global EV commitments is swelling every month. Here is a recap of what these companies are pledging toward electrification: Nissan: 18 billion dollars, Ford: 30 billion dollars, Stellantis: 35 billion dollars, GM: 35 billion dollars, and Volkswagen: 59 billion dollars! None comes close to Toyota’s 70 billion dollars, which is even significant since it already has a lot of production going on for electric cars already! Twenty-five years ago, Toyota released its first battery-electric car, a small SUV known as the RAV4 EV.
However, the car was only sold in California as a compliance car, meaning a vehicle sold only in the volumes and regions necessary to meet regulatory requirements. This enabled the company to maintain its permission to sell cars in the state. Following that was a collection of tiny urban EV runabouts and the eQ, an electric version of the iQ that emerged in 2012. However, the streak was short-lived as Toyota killed off the production after making only 100 units.
But now, Toyota has set up a completely new line that will be used to push its newly found focus on electric cars.
The series is known as BZ or Beyond Zero. The vehicles in the series will be based on the e-TNGA platform co-developed with Subaru. The Toyota New Global Architecture is a modular automobile platform that underpins various Toyota and Lexus models starting with the fourth-generation Prius in late 2015. TNGA platforms accommodate different vehicle sizes and front-, rear- and all-wheel- drive configurations. However, the electric platform is known by another name over at Subaru.
According to Toyota, the “beyond Zero” name conveys the desire to provide customers with value that exceeds mere “zero emissions.” The company described the BZ series as a “human-centered” approach aimed at regions such as China, North America, and Europe, where there is significant demand for BEVs. Toyota has revealed the BZ4X electric SUV, which we will come back to. It will be joined by more electric models.
At the bottom of the range will be a small crossover dubbed “BZ Small Crossover,” destined primarily for the city.
Finished in red, it looks more along the lines of a jacked-up hatchback with rugged cues such as the plastic body cladding. Toyota took a similar approach for its 2022 Aygo X, a combustion-engined little car competing in the A-segment. The new zero-emissions petite crossover has been conceived primarily with Europe and Japan in mind. There is also the electric sedan which Toyota calls the BZ SDN. It competes in the midsize segment and will serve as the best first car for a family.
Given its bespoke EV platform, it should be pretty spacious, resulting in a completely flat floor and ample rear legroom. The biggest of them all is the BZ Large SUV, which will be spacious enough for up to seven people thanks to the adoption of a three-row layout.
It has a relatively flat roofline to maximize rear headroom and adopts a sleek design with slim lights and pop-out door handles. All four concepts had the windows blacked out as Toyota isn’t revealing their cabins for the time being. However, Toyota has plans for its more expensive Lexus line.
The company aims to electrify the entire Lexus lineup by 2030, starting with the RZ SUV, which you will hear more about in this video. Toyota is now ready to start selling the BZ4X SUV, with notable features like an optional solar roof and a steering yoke similar to the one featured in the latest version of the Tesla Model S. The steering yoke, which Toyota describes as having a “wing-shape,” employs a steer-by-wire system, where there is no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and tires.
The yoke only needs to turn up to 150 degrees from side to side, and the driver doesn’t even need to remove their hands. This will eliminate the need to change grips when steering, which the company argues will make U-turns and other maneuvers easier.
The BZ4X is the first electric car built on the new e-TNGA to go on sale, although the Subaru Solterra may soon join it. Thanks to the platform, the BZ4X will automatically have, in addition to the steer-by-wire system, all-wheel drive, improved visibility, and a regenerative braking system. The interior of the car features a unique instrument cluster, with the screen set back from the steering wheel that Toyota says will improve driver visibility.
The central infotainment screen appears to be floating above the dash instead of embedded within it. And there are a number of physical buttons in the center console and on the steering wheel, proof that Toyota is not yet fully embracing the digital user experience like companies like Tesla.
Toyota’s designers took some inspiration from the hammerhead shark when outlining the BZ4X’s exterior. However, it is easy to see hints of the Toyota RAV4 in this new car. Toyota claims the solar roof can generate electricity equivalent to 1,800 km of driving distance per year. The car can also do bidirectional charging for vehicle-to-home capacity, like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ford F-150 Lightning. Toyota has announced the bZ4X will have an MSRP of $42,000 for the base, front- wheel-drive version, with the Limited all-wheel-drive version starting at $48,780.
The base model bZ4X has an estimated EPA range of 252 miles, about the same as the Chevy Bolt EUV and about 30 miles more than the Hyundai Ioniq 5. Toyota has also teased the first Lexus electric car, the RZ450e. Toyota sure knows how to pick the names! This controversially styled all-electric SUV was first announced back in December. This Lexus car is based on the same e-TNGA platform, so you can already guess some of the features.
The RZ 450e wears sort of a vestigial form of the luxury brand’s unmistakable and too-large spindle grille. Toyota had to be really creative on that part since EVs don’t have traditional radiators because they don’t have massive cooling requirements. The RZ 450e’s rear hatch is strongly vertical and features an integrated spoiler.
The backlight flows into this body panel at an unusually steep angle, likely determined by the wind tunnel. Toyota has released a teaser image shot through the left-front window that shows a driver-focused dashboard and a steering yoke instead of a traditional wheel.
No surprises there since this car is a very close sibling to the BZ4X. While Toyota is yet to reveal all the specs, the range will most likely be close to what the BZ4X offers, and we expect different wheel drive configurations. Let’s hear what you think of Toyota’s electric vehicle comeback effort in the comment section below!.