Toyota BZ4X EV concept is US-bound, launches new ‘Beyond Zero’ branding


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Toyota

Toyota has announced a new global series of seven full-electric vehicles under its “Beyond Zero” brand. The first of this battery-powered batch to wear the “BZ” badge is the BZ4X Concept SUV, which makes its debut this week.

The automaker’s larger push toward carbon neutrality includes expanding its global electrified vehicle portfolio — which includes hydrogen fuel cell electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles — to a total of 70 models by 2025. Of those, 15 will be full battery electric vehicles (BEVs), seven of which will be part of the Beyond Zero brand. And yes, Toyota trucks will get in on the action with hybrid and BEV powertrains coming for the automaker’s pickup lineup “in the near future.”

The BZ4X Concept is a battery electric SUV built on Toyota’s e-TNGA platform, though most of Roadshow’s staff think it looks pretty close to production-ready based on the released photos. The exterior design reminds me of the RAV4, but amazingly even more angular and sharply creased. Contrasting trim around the wheel arches is finished in glossy black — rather than the more common rugged matte — and up front the BZ4X’s fascia has been sculpted for the unique aerodynamic and cooling needs of an electric car. That means significantly smaller grille openings than the gaping maws of Toyota’s current design language.

Scale is difficult to tell from photos, but the SUV looks to be approximately the same length as the RAV4, but with the long wheelbase and short overhangs afforded by the electric vehicle platform. Think Lexus NX length with the RX’s wheelbase; Hyundai and Kia will pull off a similar trick with their upcoming Ioniq 5 and EV6 electric SUVs.

Inside, the BZ4X features an “open-concept interior” with an oddly positioned digital instrument cluster. The gauge display sits low and very far forward on the dashboard atop what I’m calling an inverted cowl. Toyota says this orientation will “help expand the vehicle’s sense of space, but also help increase visibility to aid in safe and secure driving.” I think it just looks weird.

At the center of the dashboard is what appears to be a large widescreen display above a bank of climate control buttons. Further down, on the floating center console, are the electronic shifter and physical buttons for various vehicle and safety systems, including what appears to be a button for a one-pedal driving mode similar to the Nissan Leaf’s e-Pedal.

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Even with the weird gauge placement, the interior looks production ready.


Toyota

Near the base of the center console is what appears to be a large translucent blue panel. Maybe it’s a touchpad for the infotainment; maybe it’s a fancy cover for a storage nook. I’m hoping for the latter: Trackpads are for laptops, not cars.

Toyota hasn’t announced powertrain details or range, but we know that the BZ4X is a joint development with Subaru and will feature electric all-wheel drive. Subaru is rumored to be working on its own electric SUV — likely called the Evoltis — built on the same e-TNGA platform.

Looking at the BZ4X closely, it’s hard to consider it a concept. The design appears to have all of the street-legal exterior bits. The interior is fully realized, right down to the button blanks. Plus, Toyota seems poised to crank up BZ4X production in Japan and China very soon. Worldwide sales are starting in 2022. Details regarding US availability will “be shared at a later date.”



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