The Toyota bZ4X is a perplexing machine in many ways. The all-electric SUV is a clone of the Subaru Solterra, a vehicle that will continue to be eligible for federal tax credits while Toyota’s will start to phase out this year. It’s loaded with polarizing styling cues, and it doesn’t quite meet any of the competition on the playing field. And to be honest, I just don’t know if Toyota’s marketing plan is going to work for its demographic.
Let me explain. During the presentation for the bZ4X at the press test drive I was on, Toyota noted that the market demographic for its $40,000-to-$50,000 EV would be slightly older folks, probably between 35 and 55, who make at least $100,000 a year and are probably looking to make the transition to their very first electric vehicle.
That’s okay. That’s fine. But how does Toyota plan to reach that demographic?
Through internet influencers and commercials that target younger audiences, likely the 20-35 age group.
It seems a little bit misaligned. The target demographic makes sense. The marketing campaign makes sense. But paired together, there’s not a ton of alignment here. If your probable buyer is someone with a firm footing in life — a well-established career, a comfortable urban dwelling, a steady job — then it feels a little strange to ask a TikTok star to promote the vehicle with a video on how this is a perfect transition vehicle for a young person.
Toyota also notes that it’s established a strong partnership with EV charging companies, so you’ll be able to access discounted or free rates when charging on the go while also offering discounted rates on home charger installation. That last bit was something Toyota really talked about during the press launch. How cool is it that you can figure out all your home charging needs when you’re buying an EV!
But, again — Toyota says its demographic are likely city dwellers, which means... no home charging.
There are a lot of, shall we say, interesting decisions that have gone into developing this EV. I’m just not convinced many of them are going to work.