Meet the bZ3, Toyota's Answer to the Tesla Model 3

It'll appear first in China with up to 244 horsepower and rear-wheel drive. Whether Toyota brings it elsewhere remains to be seen.

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The Toyota bZ SDN concept, which previewed the new bZ3 sedan.
The Toyota bZ SDN concept, which previewed the new bZ3 sedan.
Image: Toyota

Toyota’s second fully-electric bZ model may not be coming to the United States quite yet, but photos surfaced by the Chinese Ministry of Industry have provided us with a good idea of what the Japanese automaker’s answer to the Tesla Model 3 will look like.

What you see above is the Toyota bZ SDN concept that premiered late last year. Although we didn’t know it at the time, it was basically a preview of the Toyota bZ3 sedan that emerged last week, by way of CarNewsChina. In China, the bZ3 will be built by BYD, which supplies the batteries and electric motors atop Toyota’s own eTNGA floorplan. This is similar to how the bZ4X crossover is manufactured in the country, in cooperation with GAC.

The Toyota bZ SDN concept, which previewed the new bZ3 sedan.
The Toyota bZ SDN concept, which previewed the new bZ3 sedan.
Photo: Noriaki Mitsuhashi/N-RAK Photo Agency
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The bZ3 will reportedly be offered with either 183 or 244 horsepower, in both cases sent to the rear wheels from a battery pack of unknown capacity. No, that doesn’t sound rapid compared to the Model 3, which starts with 279 hp and only goes up from there. But then, the bZ4X isn’t about acceleration either, and outside the GR lineup, that’s never really been Toyota’s M.O.

The exterior of the bZ3, which you can peek at here, is basically a production-intent version of the bZ SDN, and that was a decent looking sedan. I’ll go on record and say I like Toyota’s approach to geometric surfacing, and the short rear deck reminds me of the Lucid Air, albeit obviously not as elegant. Still, I think it cleans up.

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The big question of course is whether Toyota will ever bring a car like this Stateside. We just don’t know quite yet, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Visually, the bZ3 shares many cues with the imminent Crown, but the Crown isn’t battery-electric, so there’s a hole in Toyota’s lineup for a compact electric sedan that the bZ3 would fill. If the automaker attempts to, you can expect the BYD running gear to be replaced with Toyota’s own for Western examples. Hopefully, the bZ4X’s disdain for keeping its wheels on won’t rub off on this smaller EV.