Toyota bZ4X Concept is the first model to feature Toyota’s new bZ – beyond Zero – naming convention. Picture: SUPPLIED
Toyota bZ4X Concept is the first model to feature Toyota’s new bZ – beyond Zero – naming convention. Picture: SUPPLIED

Toyota is accelerating up its push into electric vehicles with the release of its first SUV built on a new EV platform, joining Volkswagen’s splashy bet on the future of electric cars.

The world’s largest carmaker previewed its bZ4X, an electric SUV sitting on its new e-TNGA platform at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show, on Monday. The vehicle is a compact SUV that resembles Toyota’s popular Rav-4, but is built on an entirely new platform and features a distinctive yoke instead of a traditional steering wheel, as well as a system that can recharge the car’s battery using solar power.

The bZ4X is the first of the bZ series, which stands for “beyond zero,” or cars that exceed being “just zero-emission,” according to Toyota. By 2025 Toyota plans to introduce 15 EVs, including seven bZ series models globally, said Toyota chief technology officer Masahiko Maeda.

Toyota plans to produce the bZ4X in Japan and China and sell it worldwide by mid-2022.

The move from Toyota comes as major carmakers pivot towards electrification, with countries from Japan to the UK pledging to phase out petrol-only vehicles over the coming decades. Until now, hybrid heavyweight Toyota had taken a more cautious approach to EVs, but that’s starting to change with the latest debut. By comparison, Volkswagen, Toyota’s main global rival, announced last month a $29bn bet on new battery technology to accelerate its shift to EVs.

“In the years since we first introduced the Prius, we’ve not pushed forward with any single technology, instead preparing numerous options including fuel cell, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles,” Toyota’s Maeda said.

The company will expand its number of electrified models, which includes hybrids, to about 70 by 2025.

Bloomberg

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