By Steve & Tamami Laser
Toyota Mega Web, one of our favorite automotive attractions in Tokyo, is preparing to close its doors at the end of this month. Located in the Palette Town entertainment complex in Odaiba, Mega Web “theme park” includes the Toyota City Showcase new car showroom, History Garage car museum, Ride One test-drive track, and more.
Mega Web opened in 1999 and has welcomed about 127 million visitors. To say “thank you,” Toyota and Lexus staged one of the most significant events in Mega Web’s history on Dec. 14, when it transformed the Technology Zone section of Toyota City Showcase into a “showroom of the future.”
Showroom of the Future
During a press conference on its battery EV strategies, Toyota and Lexus revealed 15 new upcoming production and concept Battery Electric Vehicles, including sports cars, SUVs, sedans, and commercial vehicles. “Most of the Toyota battery EVs that we introduce here are models that will be coming out in the next few years,” said Akio Toyoda, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corp. (video: Toyota)
“Welcome to our showroom of the future! Today, I would like to talk about Toyota’s strategy for achieving carbon neutrality – particularly our strategy for battery electric vehicles, which represent one of the most promising options,” said Toyoda. “We will not only add battery EV options to existing vehicle models, but will also offer a full lineup of reasonably priced mass-production vehicles, such as the bZ series, to meet the needs of all kinds of customers.”
Toyota’s EV press conference was followed by a Q&A session. This video highlights questions from the media, and answers by Toyota executives. (video: Toyota)
“We can position batteries and electric motors to bring more freedom to battery EVs,” said Toyoda. “This freedom will allow us to be more attuned to our customers, such as meeting the needs of different regions, the various lifestyles of our customers, and, when it comes to commercial vehicles, everything from long-distance transport to last-mile delivery.”
Toyota plans to introduce 30 battery EV models by 2030, with a sales target of 3.5 million a year. Let’s take a look at the BEVs that Toyota and Lexus brought to Mega Web.
Toyota bZ Series
Among the group of upcoming “beyond ZERO” BEVs, the first to go on sale is the new bZ4X. Riding on the new e-TNGA platform, Toyota is already preparing to produce bZ4X models at its Motomachi plant. U.S. sales are expected to begin in spring 2022.
bZ Compact SUV
For a preview of what comes next, Toyota offered four new bZ prototypes at Mega Web. The bZ Compact SUV is a bit smaller and more sporty looking than bZ4X. Expected to ride on the same platform, Akio Toyoda called it a “Midsize SUV with a beautiful silhouette that presages a new era for battery EVs. At just a single glance, its styling can invite you to want to get in and go for a drive.”
bZ Small Crossover
The bZ Small Crossover is a model said to be designed with Europe and Japan in mind. “Because this is a small vehicle, there is something we must be thorough and very particular about, and that is power efficiency,” said Toyoda. “With this vehicle, we are aiming for a power consumption of 125 watt-hours per kilometer, which would be the highest in the compact SUV class.”
Toyoda called the bZ SDN a “midsize sedan that meets customers’ expectations for a first car.” We like the sleek and sporty look of this EV that appears to be larger than a Corolla and smaller than a Camry.
bZ Large SUV
The bZ Large SUV is said to offer three rows of seats, which would make it a family oriented alternative to the smaller bZ4X. We could see this selling well in markets including the U.S. where three-row crossovers are very popular.
Lexus Electrified is the name that the luxury brand has selected for its new BEV models. “Lexus aims to realize a full lineup of battery EVs in all vehicle segments by 2030 and to have battery EVs account for 100 percent of its vehicle sales in Europe, North America, and China, totaling 1 million units globally,” said Toyoda. “And it aims for battery EVs to make up 100 percent of its global vehicle sales in 2035.”
The first model planned for production is the new Lexus RZ, an EV crossover that appears similar in size to the bZ4X. Watch Akio Toyoda drive a prototype RZ on a test track in the following video.
“We wanted to create a battery-powered EV that captures the Lexus spirit,” said Koji Sato, President, Lexus International, Chief Branding Officer. “We will deliver a unique electrified Lexus that combines linear motor acceleration/deceleration, brake feeling and exhilarating handling to further pursue the joy of driving.” (video: Toyota)
Lexus Electrified Sport
The Lexus Electrified Sport is a next-generation electrified sports car that brings to mind the flagship Lexus LFA. “With bold proportions and low ride height essential to a sports car, it will showcase the unique driving performance of a Lexus and become a model that symbolizes the future of the brand,” said Sato.
“Acceleration time will be in the low 2 second range, cruising range over 700km, and with the possible use of solid-state batteries in mind, we will aim to create a truly high performance Battery EV,” Sato added.
Lexus Electrified Sedan
Models like the new Lexus Electrified Sedan will help the brand reach for its ambitious sales goals. As Lexus aims to fill out its EV portfolio, this sedan might one day be offered in regular and long wheelbase versions, perhaps with unique styling treatments.
Lexus Electrified SUV
The Lexus Electrified SUV highlights the beauty of a modular EV platform that can be adapted for a wide range of body styles. Thus, this three-row SUV is likely to become a larger sibling to the Lexus RZ.
Toyota offered a look at several more EVs that could be built in the future, appealing to an even wider array of customers and lifestyles.
“At Toyota, we believe that truly good products create new experiences for the customer, enhancing their chosen lifestyle directions,” said Simon Humphries, Design Senior General Manager. “From that point of view, each electric vehicle should be unique and special, not only those on dedicated platforms, but also those related to existing models.” (video: Toyota)
Toyota’s surprising new Sports EV concept looks like a small sports car that could fit beautifully into the lineup without overlapping the existing GR86 or GR Supra. The name also pays homage to Toyota’s Sports 800, a small two-seater that went on sale in Japan in 1965.
Should it be built, Sports EV could also become a modern day, electrified cousin to the departed mid-engine Toyota MR2. We were surprised to see a “GR” badge on the concept at Mega Web, making us wonder if a production model might get a “GR EV” or “GR Sports EV” nameplate?
Compact Cruiser EV
Among the models that Toyota brought to Mega Web, the Compact Cruiser EV is perhaps our favorite. The design brings to mind the FJ Cruiser, combining retro and modern touches. Yet the Compact Cruiser EV has a persona all its own.
This concept builds on Toyota’s off-road heritage, with the word “Cruiser” in its name. And the fact that the FJ Cruiser is rapidly becoming collectible also bodes well. Are Cruiser fans ready for an all-electric off-roader? We hope so. And we also hope that Toyota puts the Compact Cruiser EV on the fast track to production.
The new Pickup EV concept shows that Toyota is serious about joining the growing ranks of electric truck makers. This EV appears to be a midsize model, which makes sense considering the potential for its global appeal.
While full-size trucks, like the Toyota Tundra, are big sellers in America, the Toyota HiLux (similar to the Tacoma) is popular in Asia, Europe, and other markets. If the Pickup EV is sized right, it could gain wide appeal if it goes into production.
Akio Toyoda said that the Toyota brand currently offers more than 100 models of engine-only vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles in more than 170 countries and regions (plus 30 separate models for Lexus).
And it’s planning more EVs for regional markets. One of them is this Crossover EV, a really good looking model that might do well in Europe, for example. And since we don’t yet know the full scope of Toyota’s EV production plans, it could also find its way to the U.S.
Small SU EV
This Small SU EV reminds us of the recently introduced Toyota Aygo X Urban Crossover in Europe. While that model has a 3-cylinder engine, the Small SU EV, as its name suggests, is a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).
This sporty-looking EV might make a great starting point in the U.S. as an entry BEV model. We hope to learn more about Toyota’s product plans for the SU EV in the future.
While Toyota has been testing the larger e-Palette concept as an automated, next-gen EV for a range of Mobility as a Service (Maas) businesses, the new Mid Box (below) is a smaller BEV.
“Commercial use models such as the e-Palette will change the face of daily life in the city,” said Humphries. “But we will also challenge smaller size segments for new mobility solutions. Compact ultra-versatility will open up new and exciting possibilities for both work use and for youngsters to personalize.”
Then there’s the Micro Box, called a new approach for the smallest EV segments, and “Made-for sharing, where different variations cater to different business scenes,” said Humphries.
Micro Box might be used and configured for logistics services, mobile detailing, landscaping, ride sharing, or even pizza delivery. How about mobile sushi delivery, an ice cream parlor, or pet grooming services?
“The EV era is an opportunity and a chance for more variety, and more fun,” said Humphries. “An EV for you, an EV for me, and an EV for everyone.”
For more information visit Global Toyota
Note: Toyota plans to start deliveries of the bZ4X during 2022 in key markets. Other models shown in this story are prototypes, with production plans, markets, features and specifications subject to change without notice
News source, photos and videos courtesy of Toyota Motor Corp.
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