From a very early age, Toyota bet on electrifying its cars, introducing the Prius hybrid in 1997. Today, the model is one of the best known – and economical – of the brand, which expanded this type of propulsion to a large part of its line, including Corolla, Corolla Cross and RAV4 to stay only on models sold in Brazil.
Toyota’s Brazilian division began developing in 2015 a hybrid propulsion system that, in place of a combustion engine powered by gasoline, can be fueled with ethanol, a renewable fuel.
The technology was offered to the public in 2019 at Corolla and is also an option for those who want the Corolla Cross SUV. According to the company, the sale of hybrid flex versions already accounts for about 20% of sales of both cars.
Even with its global prominence in hybrid cars, Toyota seemed reluctant to enter the 100% electric vehicle segment.
Despite having several products mixing an internal combustion engine with an electric one, in various sizes and different proposals around the world, it had never launched a model powered only by electrical energy stored in batteries. Now that has changed.
Born with a concept introduced in China in early 2021, the Toyota bZ4X had its first details revealed. Now it is known that the novelty will begin to reach the North American market in November, being expected for December in Europe and until the middle of 2022 for other countries, such as Japan and China. Prices must be confirmed only at the beginning of marketing.
Toyota released some details of the bZ4X that even justify the long wait for the company to unveil its first electric. First, its name: bZ is the brand’s new family of electric cars, called Beyond Zero, and the company has promised at least six more models within that line by 2025. The 4X comes from the possibility of the SUV having all-wheel drive.
The bZ4X is the first product built on the company’s new e-TNGA platform, derived from the TNGA found in the current Corolla, but was adapted for 100% electric vehicles in a development that was done in partnership between the brand and Subaru.
It is not the first time that the two team up for a joint development, since the small sports cars Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are the result of the joint efforts of the brands.
Going to the car itself, the Toyota bZ4X has a size very similar to a current RAV4, but its look is more sharp and modern, something the company called “hammer head shark”, due to the flatter lines on the forward.
It is 4.69 meters long, 1.86 m wide, 1.65 m high and 2.85 m wheelbase. The weight in the entry configuration is 1,920 kg, compared to 2005 kg in the fuller one.
And that brings us to the heart of the car. The Toyota bZ4X is powered by a 71.4 kWh battery pack. The model has a single electric motor on the front axle that delivers 150 kW (204 hp) of power and 27.2 kgfm of torque. According to the brand, this version has up to 500 km of autonomy and can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds.
The most expensive one has a second engine coupled to the rear axle. In addition to all-wheel drive, each engine delivers 80 kW of power, for a total of 160 kW (214 hp), in addition to 34.2 kgfm. The autonomy drops to 450 km, but acceleration is accomplished in 7.7 seconds. Both have a maximum speed limited to 160 km/h.
The set is competitive within the electric SUV segment. But until then, it was Toyota’s obligation to deliver a model that was on par with its rivals. However, the Japanese origin brand went further, not only in the external look.
Inside, the cabin has very futuristic elements, such as the joystick-shaped steering wheel option. As in airplanes, the part is not physically connected to the steering box, the operation is done by wires, sensors and actuators.
For the driver’s convenience, the car has a system that allows the car to carry out parking maneuvers autonomously, eliminating the need to use a beacon.
The Toyota bZ4X will also feature Toyota Safety Sense, a driving aid system set that includes equipment such as autonomous emergency braking and lane maintenance assistant.
Another highlight of Toyota’s new electric SUV is the adoption of a solar energy capture panel installed on the roof of the bZ4X. The idea is not new, and the Nissan Leaf came to adopt something similar – to a lesser extent – in the first generation.
In the SUV, the brand promises the ability to provide up to 1,800 km of autonomy in typical use annually (about 12,000 km per year). That’s the equivalent of 4 full recharges of the most powerful model.
While the main global markets will receive the news between the end of 2021 and the beginning of next year, Brazil should still take a while to receive the Toyota bZ4X, as the demand and structure for electric cars is not yet so developed. Around here, the company should continue betting on electrifying its line with hybrid flex models.
Reference: CNN Brasil