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. 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.
bZ Small Crossover
The bZ Small Crossover is a model said to be designed with Europe and Japan in mind.
Toyota calls the bZ SDN a midsize sedan. 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.
The first model planned for production is the new Lexus RZ, an EV crossover that appears similar in size to the bZ4X.
Lexus Electrified Sport
The Lexus Electrified Sport is a next-generation electrified sports car that brings to mind the flagship Lexus LFA.
Lexus anticipates acceleration to be in the low 2 second range, with cruising range over 700km, and also the potential use of solid-state batteries, for this high-performance EV.
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.
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.
The Toyota brand is said to currently offer 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.
Then there’s the Micro Box (below), called a new approach for the smallest EV segments, that could be made for sharing, or a perhaps a variety of different business uses.
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?
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 and photos courtesy of Toyota Motor Corp.
Story (commentary) © 2021 CarNichiWa.com