Regular guest presenter Lance Scott, President of Toyota’s ED2 Design Centre in Southern France, gave a unique insight to the creation of the all-new bZ4X, the first electric SUV from Toyota at the 19th Autostyle+ Design Edition 2022, at Porto Mantovano, Italy.
He began with the reveal of the new car stating – “So this is the result of our journey which began in 2017, to when we started to think of what kind of experience we could develop in the future of BEVs. Our experimental models were made public at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, with six ED2 design vehicles on display.”
They included the E-Racer, E-Pallette (LCV), e-Care, e-4me, e-Chargeair (autonomous H2 charging system).
“These made us consider the experiences we wanted to give our customers , as in Toyota, we believe we believe in good design, and creating new experiences for the client. But for the bZ4X and each and every one of our products should have its own unique experience. We felt strongly that the experience for the bZ4X should be much more than the BEV powertrain itself.
Internally, at ED2, we coined the phrase ‘Exhilarating Electrification’ and started where we wanted to take this new vehicle for Toyota. After defining some key elements of the concept, the team in ED2 started what we call a sketch festival. This is where we gather all the designers to create as many diverse ideas as possible. Then we narrow them down and select the key ideas to follow.”
In highlighting design themes such as Surface, Face iD and Proportion, Lance quoted Akio Toyota, Head of Toyota Motor Corporation – “Cars are something to enjoy! Fun to drive must be included”
Three ideas were focussed upon to further develop: Magnetic elegance, Emotional mono and Sensual armour.
Virtual reality tools were used, a follow on from the process derived during the covid lockdowns. In the end, the Sensual armour was chosen and pursued, mainly due to its stretched wheelbase, rugged theme and short overhangs. Medium to full size clay models were produced, with the final painted version revealed in February 2019.
“Styling is a tool to express the unique concept for each car, for the bZ4X, a dynamic crossover was our target,” he emphasised.
The hammerhead facial design, with its slim lights and range of sensors, ‘which are more important than the traditional radiator grille’, provide aerodynamic elements, to give the vehicle a whole new attitude and presence.
Interior design specialist at ED2 Alessandro Belosio, explained about the new cars unique interior design process, indicating its many functionality features and the unusual integrated wrap-around steering wheel and central dash area.
As the bZ4X SUV enters European markets, it has just been awarded 5-Stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests programme. A saloon/sedan version concept has now been developed.
Words & Pics: Jarlath Sweeney