• New BEV models to round out Toyota’s electrification strategy
• Previews a family of human-centric battery electric vehicles
• Toyota bZ - ‘beyond Zero’ - highlights Toyota’s commitment to carbon neutrality, and beyond
• Features the all-new e-TNGA platform - designed and optimised for electric vehicles
• Debuts an advanced steer-by-wire system and solar charging capability
• Utilises e-TNGA opportunity to deliver a “dynamism and utility” exterior design theme
• Cabin space similar to a large luxury sedan with a wide panoramic view for the driver
Toyota today presents a concept version of the forthcoming Toyota bZ4X at the Shanghai Motor Show - previewing the first in a series of human-centric, zero emission battery electric vehicles (BEVs). bZ4X and future BEVs will join the impressive line-up of self-charging and plug-in hybrids, along with the hydrogen-powered Mirai, which together, are the central drivers of Toyota’s electrification strategy and the company’s journey towards supplying the mass market with zero and negative emissions vehicles.
The Toyota bZ4X Concept, 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 acronym for ‘beyond Zero’, reinforcing Toyota’s commitment to not only 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 ‘4’ signifies a mid-sized vehicle, and ‘X’ highlights that it is a crossover SUV.
The new Toyota bZ4X Concept has been developed by Toyota Motor Corporation (TOYOTA) in partnership with Subaru Corporation (SUBARU), drawing on the specific skills and experience of each company.
Building on Toyota’s electrification leadership
The new Toyota bZ4X Concept is the latest milestone in Toyota’s journey to achieve zero emissions that began more than 20 years ago with the launch of the original Prius, the world’s first mass-production hybrid electric car. Since that time Toyota has consistently pushed the boundaries of vehicle electrification, achieving ever greater efficiency from its hybrid technology, and realising new opportunities with the development of plug-in hybrid electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.
In Ireland, consumer adoption of Toyota’s hybrids has accelerated significantly in recent years, with hybrid now accounting for more than 90% of its Irish sales and helping Toyota to earn market leader status. Toyota sells more electrified cars than any other brand and firmly believes that hybrid cars have a crucial role to play in the near- and medium-term transition away from ICEs, given their low NOx and CO2 emissions (87g/km average across its range, compared to the market average of 99g/km), and the fact that they can operate in EV mode for more than 60% of time on average. In 2019 and 2020 Toyota’s hybrids sold will save over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 from the environment over their lifetime, compared to full ICE cars.
Toyota ‘bZ’ also signals that Toyota is looking beyond zero emissions when it comes to future mobility.
To accomplish this, Toyota has pursued a wide choice of electrified technologies, to suit the demands of different markets and types of vehicle use – HEVs, PHEVs, FCEVs and BEVs. In addition, developing hydrogen as a plentiful source of clean energy adds a further dimension, with fuel cell technology applicable to many different forms of transport – not just FCEVs, but also heavy trucks, trains, and shipping – and for use in stationary and mobile electricity generators.
Commenting on the announcement, Steve Tormey, CEO, Toyota Ireland said: “Today’s announcement is another great example of our ‘Built for a Better World’ brand purpose, and we are excited about the forthcoming addition of BEVs to round out our low and zero emissions offering as we continue our journey towards zero and negative emissions.
“While BEVs are an important component of our ‘beyond Zero’ strategy, we believe that the multi-powertrain approach we are taking is the smartest way to get society to where we need to go from a sustainability point of view. With hybrid we can move many people to electrified driving – and importantly out of diesel as that will mean cleaner air for everyone.
Toyota continue to lead electrification and pioneer innovative technologies, such as even more efficient hybrid powertrains, hydrogen fuel cell technology, and continuing our leading development in solid state batteries, as evidenced by over 1,000 solid state patents we hold.”
Exterior design that combines dynamism and utility
Toyota bZ4X Concept’s exterior design anticipates people’s high expectations of an electric vehicle driving experience without having to make compromises. Its overall form marries dynamism and utility: the SUV has a characteristic high driving position, but still appears planted on the road. The bodywork presents sensuous surfaces, combined with precise and high-tech styling.
The front of the car – an instant point of recognition for any vehicle – 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.
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.
Battery management as a key to optimise driving range
The development programme has reaped the benefits of more than 20 years of Toyota’s leadership in vehicle electrification and the company’s brand-defining quality, durability, and reliability. This 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.
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, thereby giving a 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 new adaptive grip control. The technology eliminates the need for the driver to move their hands around the wheel as they make a turn, adding to the car’s fun-to-drive quality. This feature will be introduced first in China before being made available worldwide.
Toyota bZ models will also help achieve the goal of carbon neutrality. Carbon neutrality refers to approaches and initiatives aimed at neutralising CO2 emissions from the entire vehicle life cycle - including manufacturing, distribution, use, recycling, and final disposal.
Irish details on launch, pricing and other information will be released late 2021.