Toyota’s been late to the EV game compared to other players in the industry, but it’s bringing its first battery model to market soon. The new 2022 Toyota bZ4X EV, announced today, seeks to change that in a big way. The “bZ” in the name notes the platform and stands for “Beyond Zero.” Jointly developed with Subaru, the platform will eventually underpin seven different EV models by 2025. And from reading the tea leaves in Toyota’s news release, we’re going to assume one or more of those models will be a bonafide AWD off-road capable vehicle. Both Toyota and Subaru target off-road performance with this platform, and Subaru lent its expertise in AWD vehicles and its X-MODE system to the bZ. It remains to be seen which brand will get first dibs on the first off-roader, but we hope it’s going to be much more than an electrified Outback or RAV4 TRD Off Road.
Toyota bZ4X By the Numbers
Toyota has listed a range of 310 miles/charge for FWD models and 285 miles for AWD models from a 71.4 kWh battery. They also hype the fact that they spec’d their batteries to retain 90% of their capacity after 10 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first. The EV can accept 150kW fast-charging and reach an 80% charge in 30 minutes. The bZ4X uses a dual-motor setup to achieve AWD. Acceleration from 0-100kmph/62mph is 7.7 seconds, according to Toyota. So it’s no speed demon, and this alone puts the Telsa Model Y ahead.
The bZ Buzz Factor
Two of the standout features we noticed on the bZ were what Toyota calls the One-Motion-Grip steering wheel and a roof inlayed with solar panels. The steering wheel made us instantly think of the controversial yoke steering wheel introduced by Tesla. Toyota says its wheel goes lock-to-lock in 150 degrees, thereby eliminating the need for hand-over-hand operations in tight corners or while parking. They also point out that it expands legroom and makes getting into and out of the front seat that much easier. For now, only Chinese customers will see this steering wheel, but Toyota does eventually plan to roll it out globally.
Select models of the new bZ platform can be optioned with a solar array inlayed into the roof. Toyota claims that the solar panels could deliver the equivalent of 1,100 miles of EV range back to crossover’s battery in a year. They also tout its ability to operate as a remote power generator during emergencies. We could see it getting better use to power gadgets at a campsite, tailgate, beach or elsewhere where you want to save as much juice as possible to get back home.
One last feature that caught our eyes: In addition to heated seats and steering wheel which use much, much less power than a traditional car heater, the bZ will use a radiant heater in the driver’s side floor to keep feet cozy.
Pricing & Availability
Toyota expects to launch the bZ around the world by the middle of 2022. With current supply-chain issues and the ongoing pandemic, we’ll see. Pricing, unfortunately, hasn’t been announced, but based on the battery’s size, we would not be surprised to see the AWD bZ4X likely start north of $50,000.