The Toyota bZ4X, the brand’s first purpose-designed battery electric vehicle (BEV), will offer an electric driving range of 280 miles.
The bZ in the name stands for ‘beyond Zero’, and the bZ4X is the first model in this new series. The bZ4X is the first car to be built on Toyota’s new dedicated BEV platform, co-developed by Subaru and Toyota.
Incorporating the battery unit as an integral part of the chassis, beneath the vehicle floor, it gives the benefits of a low centre of gravity, excellent front/rear weight balance and high body rigidity for high levels of safety, ride and handling.
The bZ4X is an SUV available with a new all-wheel drive system with separate electric motors for each axle which Toyota claims provides class-leading off-road handling and performance.
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 per cent of its original performance.
With a fully charged battery, expected range is more than 280 miles. The bZ4X will also offer features including a solar panel roof to help charge the battery while driving or parked.
The bZ4X will have its European premiere on 2 December; customers who want to be among the first to obtain the new model will be able to place a reservation from 15 December.
The design incorporates aerodynamic elements that contribute to the car’s efficiency, including apertures set 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.
The front-wheel drive bZ4X is powered by a 150kW electric motor. It produces 201bhp and 265Nm of torque, enabling 0-62mph acceleration in 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 100mph. The all-wheel drive model has maximum power of 214bhp with 336Nm of torque; top speed is unchanged, while acceleration to 62mph is reduced to 7.7 seconds.
The high-density lithium-ion battery has a 71.4kWh capacity that is expected to deliver a driving range of more than 280 miles.
Thanks to a heating system that includes a heat pump, reliability is also maintained in sub-zero temperatures, with only a modest reduction in range compared to competitor models. The battery can also be fast-charged without compromising service life: an 80 per cent charge can be achieved in around 30 minutes with a 150kW fast-charging system (CCS2). At launch, the bZ4X is equipped with a 6.6kW on-board charger; from Q4 2022, a new 11kW three-phase charger will be introduced.
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 in 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 80kW 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 13mph); and Grip Control for tougher off-road driving (below 6mph).
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.