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Toyota unveils bZ4X electric vehicle, here 2022

Toyota uses the unveiling of its bZ4X EV to detail electrification strategy

20 Apr 2021

TOYOTA has finally torn the covers off its first dedicated electric vehicle, the bZ4X, and outlined its ‘global electrification strategy’ which will see 15 battery-electric vehicles (BEV) launched between now and 2025, however not all of them will be headed Down Under.

 

Roughly the size of the current RAV4 SUV, no concrete details of the bZ4X have been revealed yet, however the brand has confirmed it will be the first of seven dedicated ‘bZ’ models which will all be underpinned by a bespoke EV platform.

 

Expected to arrive Down Under late next year, the bZ4X may well be the first bZ model to emerge and arrive locally but according to Toyota Australia vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley, it will carry a hefty pricetag.

 

“We’ll introduce the bZ4X as soon as possible after the global launch which is targeted for around mid-2022,” he said.

 

“Pricing will be announced closer to introduction, but this car will be expensive, as was the original Prius that we launched back in October 2001, and this is due to significant research and development cost recovery.

 

“Like hybrids, battery-electric vehicle adoption and affordability will take time, but certainly not 20 years.

 

“They will eventually become a sustainable means of technology, but the energy mix, battery technology and infrastructure are still being developed.”

 

Lacking infrastructure has long been the Achilles heel of EV uptake in Australia and it’s for that reason, along with the ongoing development of battery technology, that Toyota still believes hybrid powertrains to be the “dominant type of electrification” in the “short to medium future”.

 

To try and amend the lack of EV charging infrastructure, Mr Hanley said Toyota Australia would be working with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), energy companies, government and dealers, however its primary focus for the time being at least was on bringing BEVs to market in the first place.

 

Exactly which BEVs and how many remains to be seen after product planning and development general manager Rod Ferguson confirmed that while each and every member of the bZ portfolio would be considered, not all of them may make it into local showrooms.

 

“We’ll definitely have a look at all of them,” he said.

 

“We don’t necessarily have them all, but that’s a global suite of vehicles if you like, of seven, which are all dedicated battery-electric platform vehicles and we’ll be assessing them on suitability, the application of our market and maybe some that are purely for other parts of the world.”

 

Away from the bZ model range, Toyota says it plans to produce eight other dedicated EVs globally by 2025, helping boost its total electrified portfolio (hybrid, PHEV, BEV and FCEV) to around 70.

 

As for Australia, the brand’s local arm is promising to offer at least one electrified variant of every model by 2030, save for its small but progressively growing GR arsenal.

 

According to Mr Hanley, the GR models have been left out of this commitment as a matter of caution during these early days of the beyond Zero strategy.

 

“We’re just being cautious about where and what we do commit to, but certainly if you have a look at Le Mans and other technologies that develop for a performance car, you would never rule out the possibility of GR having some type of alternate powertrain,” he said.

 

“We know that in Australia GR has recently been launched – it’s not big volume in the context of our total brand in Australia, but there is a market there and that market’s excited by performance cars.

 

“So therefore, while we’d never exclude GR from having these alternate battery-electric, hybrid type technologies in a performance stream, we’re also acutely aware that this market demands a different level of performance.”

 

Despite there currently only being one plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Toyota available globally – RAV4 Prime – both Mr Hanley and Mr Ferguson said the technology was almost inevitably going to expand within the brand’s model line-up, describing it as yet another choice for consumers, but neither could give a definitive timeline.

 

Once the new-generation Kluger large SUV touches down locally in June, Toyota Australia will have eight electrified models in its showrooms, the others being the RAV4, Yaris, Yaris Cross, Corolla, Prius, C-HR and Camry.


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