Toyota presents the world premiere of the all-new bZ4X, the first model in a new series of bZ – beyond Zero – battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
Faithful in its design and technology to its concept predecessor, revealed earlier this year, the production-ready bZ4X is the first model to be developed by Toyota entirely as a BEV. It is also the first car to be built on the company’s new BEV dedicated platform. Based on e-TNGA philosophy, this has been co-developed by Subaru and Toyota. Incorporating the battery unit as an integral part of the chassis, beneath the vehicle floor, this gives the fundamental benefits of a low centre of gravity, excellent front/rear weight balance and high body rigidity for excellent safety, ride and handling.
The bZ4X is a spacious, comfortable SUV, available with a new all-wheel drive system that provides class-leading off-road handling and performance with separate electric motors for each axle. Its clean, sleek and powerful exterior design reflects both its advanced BEV qualities and SUV status, and debuts a new brand-defining “hammerhead” frontal shape, communicating the car’s strong stance.
The long wheelbase provides excellent accommodation in a light and open five-seat cabin, plus generous load capacity.
Toyota has drawn on almost 25 years’ experience in electrified vehicle battery technology to secure world-leading quality, durability and reliability for the lithium-ion unit which powers the bZ4X. Even after 10 years of driving, the battery is expected to still operate at 90% of its original performance*.
(*Target values during development. The period of use and mileage is assumed to be 10 years, or 240,000 km (150,000 miles), whichever is shorter.)
With a fully charged battery, expected range is more than 450 km (depending on version, exact data to be confirmed later). The bZ4X will also offer advanced technology features, including a solar panel roof to help charge the battery while driving or parked, and third generation Toyota Safety Sense with new and improved active safety and driver assistance systems.
The bZ4X will have its European premiere on 2 December, just prior to the opening of a dedicated online reservation service for customers who want to be among the first to obtain the new model.
Debut for Toyota’s new BEV dedicated platform
The bZ4X is the first car to be built on the company’s new BEV dedicated platform based on e-TNGA philosophy.
This completely new platform has the flexibility to be used for potential future bZ models and is designed for production at scale. Critically, the slim battery unit is located fully beneath the vehicle floor and forms part of the chassis, helping achieve a low centre of gravity, ideal front/rear weight balance and high body rigidity. These qualities combine to give the bZ4X stable and responsive dynamic performance and, with a long wheelbase, excellent interior space.
Design – exterior
Toyota has produced a sleek and robust design for the bZ4X that’s equally appropriate for modern urban life and the countryside, blending the advanced look of a BEV with the original qualities of an SUV. The frontal appearance is smart and avoids unnecessary decoration. It is characterised by a new brand-defining “hammerhead” shape with signature slim headlight units and an emphasis on the front corners that communicates the car’s strong stance.
In side view, the silhouette is sleek with a low overall height, slender front pillars and a low axle line that reflects the low centre of gravity achieved with the new platform. Wheel arch mouldings, large wheels (up to 20-inch diameter) pushed out to the corners of the body and thick rocker panels express the car’s authentic SUV character. At the rear, the design focus is again on emphasising the corners, with a distinctive taillight bridging the width of the vehicle.
Compared to the Toyota RAV4, the exterior dimensions illustrate the design benefits inherent in the e-TNGA platform. For example, the bZ4X has an overall height that’s lower by 85 mm, shorter overhangs and a wheelbase that that’s 160 mm longer than the RAV4. The bonnet line is also reduced in height by 50 mm. Overall agility is reflected in a class-leading 5.7 m turning radius.
The design incorporates aerodynamic elements that contribute to the generous driving range, including apertures set deep in the front bumper corners to create smooth air curtains; a full underbody cover; a split roof spoiler and rear duck-tail lip spoiler; rear diffuser; and a precisely angled rear screen. The slim lower grille has a shutter that adjusts to channel cooling air flow to the battery and helps reduce wind resistance.
Design – interior
The theme for the interior is “lagom” – the Swedish word that expresses something that is “just right.” Here it is reflected in comfort and spaciousness that give the cabin the ambience of a living room, a feeling that’s enhanced by using soft, woven trim textures, satin-finish detailing and the option of a panoramic roof.
The instrument panel is slim and low set, adding to the sense of openness and the driver’s forward visibility. The “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road” principle is supported by the human-centred cockpit in which the seven-inch TFT instrument and information display sits directly in the driver’s forward eyeline, above the line of the steering wheel, so the meters can be viewed with minimal eye movement.
The long wheelbase delivers class-leading legroom for all occupants and a one-metre couple distance between front and rear passenger hip points. There is also generous load space with an adjustable deckboard; with the rear seats in place, there is up to 452 l.
The front-wheel drive bZ4X is powered by a high-response 150 kW electric motor. It produces 204 DIN hp and 265 Nm of torque, enabling 0-100 km/h acceleration in 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 160 km/h. The all-wheel drive model (further details below) has maximum power of 217.5 DIN hp with 336 Nm of torque; top speed is unchanged, while acceleration to 100 km/h is reduced to 7.7 seconds. All performance figures remain provisional prior to homologation.
The system offers the option of “single pedal drive” with a boost in the braking energy regeneration that lets the driver accelerate and slow the vehicle using only the throttle pedal.
Driving range and battery technology
Driving range is a critical consideration for EV customers and Toyota has brought to bear almost 25 years’ experience in high-capacity battery development to ensure that not only does the bZ4X offer peace of mind of in terms of the distance it can cover, but also reassurance that that capability can be maintained year after year. In line with development targets for the battery, only a marginal reduction in battery performance is expected – around just 10% – in 10 years of driving, or 240 000 kilometres, whichever comes first.
The high-density lithium-ion battery has a 71.4 kWh capacity that is expected to deliver a driving range of more than 450 km (applying to WLTP metrics). Figures depend on version and remain provisional at this stage, prior to homologation.
Thanks to an efficient and effective heating system, including a heat pump, reliability is also maintained in sub-zero temperatures, with only a modest reduction in range compared to competitor models. Similarly, the battery can be fast-charged without compromising safety or service life: an 80% charge can be achieved in around 30 minutes with a 150 kW fast-charging system (CCS2). From Q4 2022, a new 11 kW three-phase on-board charger will be available.
Key to the battery’s quality and durability is multiple monitoring of the voltage, current and temperature, from individual cell level. If any abnormal heat generation is detected, controls are automatically triggered. Countermeasures have been put place to mitigate any material degradation, and there are safeguards in the manufacturing process to prevent foreign matter from entering the battery. In a Toyota first, the battery is water-cooled.
Toyota worked with its development partner Subaru in engineering a new BEV all-wheel drive system, that draws on the great AWD heritage of both companies. This provides added safety when driving in difficult conditions and gives the bZ4X genuine, class-leading SUV off-road driving ability.
The AWD model features separate 80 kW motors driving the front and rear axles. XMODE with its different drive modes can also be selected to suit the conditions with settings for snow/mud; deep snow and mud (below 20 km/h); and Grip Control for tougher off-road driving (below 10 km/h).
The bZ4X will be the first production Toyota to offer a steer-by-wire system – One Motion Grip – due for introduction in Europe at a later date. Dispensing with the mechanical linkage between the steering wheel and the front wheels, this electronic system adjusts the tyre angle precisely according to the driver’s intention, and provides more legroom, improving driving position freedom and ease of entry and exit. The traditional steering wheel is replaced with the One Motion Grip-control, making operation smoother and easier, with no need for hand-over-hand turning. Full-lock can be achieved with just a 150-degree turn.
With no physical connection in the system, unnecessary vibration from the tyres is blocked, but the driver still experiences valuable feedback, such as from the road surface. The steering feeling is improved through independent control of the steering torque; steering characteristics can be changed according to the drive mode selected.
Solar panel roof
The bZ4X’s driving range can be maximised with the use of an optional solar panel roof. This captures solar energy with zero emissions and zero cost to generate electricity to charge the car’s drive battery. It can be used when the car’s ignition is on or off and Toyota calculates that it can harness enough power in the course of a year to enable 1,800 km of driving.