By Steve & Tamami Laser
Toyota and Subaru have worked together to engineer and build some great products, including the new GR 86 and BRZ. The automakers are fast-forwarding their relationship into the future with the all-new Toyota bZ4X concept, a battery electric vehicle (BEV), revealed this week at the Auto Shanghai motor show.
Riding on the new e-TNGA modular platform designed for electric vehicles, the bZ4X is a midsize SUV that previews a future production model jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru.
Toyota plans to begin worldwide sales of the new EV by mid 2022, and expects to introduce 15 BEVs, including seven bZ models, by 2025.
Toyota has produced more than 17 million electrified vehicles, starting in 1997 with the Prius hybrid. The current global lineup includes 45 hybrids (HEVs), four plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), four BEVs, and two fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
In this video, from the Toyota Motor Corp. YouTube Channel, Masahiko Maeda, chief technology officer, introduces the all-new bZ4X concept. (video: Toyota)
Toyota says the new series of BEVs will allow people to change from their current vehicle with no inconvenience, while realizing all the benefits a fully electric car can offer.
“This is not just about contributing to the environment by being a zero-emission vehicle, but giving value ‘beyond Zero’ emissions by making driving easier and more fun,” says Chief Engineer Koji Toyoshima. (video: Toyota)
Developed with Subaru, bZ4X all-wheel-drive includes electric motors on the front and rear axles. Toyota says the system provides “genuine off-road capability” that also delivers extra security and peace of mind for drivers in on-road conditions.
Simon Humphries, senior general manager, talks about the distinctive, futuristic design of the bZ4X, featuring a long wheelbase with short overhangs. (video: Toyota)
The bZ4X silhouette blends dynamism with utility, featuring a high driving position, with high-tech styling, and a road-hugging look with large wheels and fender flares.
Up front, bZ4X replaces the familiar grille with an array of aero elements, lights, and sensors, in a distinctive look described as a “hammerhead” form. We can imagine a similar appearance for Subaru’s unnamed version of this EV, perhaps with a bit more rugged style.
Toyota says the electric powertrain, including the motor, control unit and battery management system, are designed to deliver class-leading efficiency and a very competitive driving range. An on-board solar charging system is expected to enhance the distance that can be covered.
Also included is a “world-first” (on a model intended for mass production) combination of steering yoke and steer-by-wire system. The technology is said to provide greater control for the driver, by removing interference from rough road surfaces and braking.
The “drive module” style for the front of the cabin gives the driver a sense of connection to the road and important information. The low instrument panel offers panoramic visibility. Controls are grouped around the center console, while the digital driver’s display is mounted above the steering yoke for easy viewing.
The bZ4X concept’s steering yoke is said to eliminate the need for the driver to move his or her hands around the wheel while turning. (We don’t know if this design will be used globally in the future production model.)
The bZ4X presents a comfortable and connected space where passengers can enjoy spending time together while making a journey. The front seats in the concept appear to be supportive, while the center console offers flexible storage space.
“Our target customer is someone who places importance on time spent together with family and friends,” says Chief Engineer Toyoshima. “When they want to enjoy such times, Toyota bZ4X concept can serve as a hub for them.”
With a virtually flat floor, rear seat passengers can stretch out. Toyota says rear seat legroom is comparable to that of a large D-segment model.
Toyota plans to produce the bZ4X in Japan and China with worldwide sales starting next year.
For more information visit Global Toyota
Note: The bZ4X shown in this story is a concept vehicle and is not for sale. Launch timing for future production models is subject to change without notice
News sources, photos and video courtesy of Toyota Motor Corp., and Toyota Motor Europe NV/SA. Additional photos courtesy of Newspress
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