UPDATE, April 19: The Toyota bZ4X concept all-electric mid-sized SUV has been officially unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show.
Sharing similar proportions to Toyota's perenially popular RAV4, this new prototype looks close to production-spec, which supports Toyota's recent announcement that its first EV will be on sale in Australia in 2022.
"Adding the first battery-electric vehicle to our range builds on our approach of providing a variety of powertrain options, while reducing emissions," said Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing.
The bZ4X concept's unveiling also gave the Japanese automaker the chance to announce it would be releasing no less than seven bZ all-electric models before 2025, although it's unclear which EVs will be coming to Australia.
"Further 'bZ' series vehicles will be considered and introduced as appropriate for Australia in due course, expanding Toyota's electrified vehicle choices," Hanley said.
"Our approach reiterates Toyota Australia's absolute commitment to reducing its CO2 footprint and the adoption of new technologies across our extensive range of vehicles, whilst recognising the different practical needs of Australian customers and geographies. Offering a number of powertrain choices to suit customer needs is essential.
"We will continue to evaluate the market in Australia and strive towards increasing to a powertrain mix that includes a form of electrification across our vehicle range by 2030, excluding GR and performance models."
April 13: The 2021 Toyota EV SUV – the Japanese marque's latest joint venture with Subaru – has been teased for the first time ahead of its unveiling at next week’s Auto Shanghai on April 19.
The EV SUV will wear Toyota’s recently established BZ badge – a new brand created by the automaker that will act as an umbrella for all of its future electric vehicles.
In news that broke last week, the BZ moniker, short for ‘beyond zero’, has already had several different model names licensed by Toyota, ranging from BZ1 through to BZ5.
BZ1 will signify the smallest EV in the range, while BZ5 denotes the largest. An ‘X’ suffix has also been added to certain models such as the BZ4X and BZ5X, which would indicate some vehicles in the line-up will come with all-wheel drive.
The new BZ will be based on Toyota and Subaru’s jointly developed e-TNGA electric vehicle architecture.
The bespoke EV platform employs a skateboard-style battery layout design, which goes a long way to helping engineers with interior packaging.
The ubiquitous location of the batteries also means the e-TNGA platform is modular, so all BZ designations can be based on one fundamental chassis architecture.
It’s a similar engineering philosophy to Volkswagen’s MEB platform and essentially means that wheelbase, track width, vehicle height and length can all be adjusted to suit numerous different applications.
As standard, BZ models will be equipped with an electric motor that sits over the front axle, powering the front wheels only.
However, the e-TNGA platform has been designed to accommodate a wide array of different electric motors, including ones that sit over the rear axle, enabling the aforementioned all-wheel drive capabilities of the BZ4X and BZ5X.
It’s not known what particular model Toyota will be unveiling next week in Shanghai, but given this BZ is rumoured to sit just above the RAV4 in terms of size, it will most likely be a close-to-production-spec BZ3 or BZ4.
There’s also no word yet about battery size, driving range, power outputs or charging capabilities.
Whatever the case, the BZ range represents the “next exciting journey in electrification” for Toyota, and the automaker has big plans for future EV models, previously stating that it expects 30 per cent of its new vehicle sales to be either plug-in hybrid, fully electric, or hydrogen-powered by 2025.
Be sure to watch this space as WhichCar brings you more news about the new Toyota BZ SUV next week.
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