Toyota wants to return to form. It wants to be at the forefront of electrification once more and relive its days as the de facto segment leader. The carmaker is no longer targeting the hybrid segment; it now wants to lead in BEVs and the new bZ series is how it plans to do so.
Toyota has debuted the first car in that series at the Shanghai Auto Show, the bZ4X concept. The company did not provided many details for the bZX4 yet, so we don’t know its range, output figures or cost. Those details will be available as we near the worldwide release of the production bZX4, which Toyota plans for the middle of 2022. The first thing that sticks out to me is how utterly normal the concept looks, and this is a very good thing:
Of course, the other thing that sticks out is those stupid blue accents. Just imagine how this BEV concept would look without those highlights. It would look mostly like any normal SUV on the road today. The concept does read a little like a Toyota designer took a Mirai and RAV4 and combined them, but overall there’s a strong resemblance to the current SUVs in Toyota’s lineup.
Again, this is a good thing to see. As more and more EVs push into the mainstream, their designs will start to settle into less conspicuous production cars and there will be little to make the cars visually stand out from ICE cars. This establishes parity between them.
Obviously, that will never happen when referring to their modes of propulsion, but it can happen in our overall conception of what an electric car is.
We know them as EVs now, or electric vehicles, but at some point we’ll just call them vehicles again without the need to identify them as electrics. This starts with getting rid of goofy accents and producing sensible form-over-function designs. Toyota could have something like that coming down the pike since they plan on releasing 15 new BEVs by 2025. Seven of these will be part of the bZ series.
Jointly developed with Subaru, the Toyota bZ4X SUV Concept is built on the new e-TNGA BEV- dedicated platform. The concept conveys Toyota’s legendary quality, durability and long-term reliability (QDR) in combination with Subaru’s AWD capabilities to achieve a driving experience that is both comfortable and engaging.
Toyota is borrowing from Subaru’s AWD expertise and it plans to partner with other companies to bring those 15 new cars to market. Among those, the company states it is working with BYD and Suzuki, besides its subsidiary Daihatsu.
I hope this means that the bZ4X’s more-or-less average design can proliferate among those other carmakers, too.