Toyota Unveils 2 New bZ Series Models At Auto Shanghai
The new Toyota models are under development with the aim of expanding and evolving BEVs that appeal to customers in China.
A few weeks ago, Toyota unveiled a “New Management Policy & Direction.” As part of that announcement, Toyota released some details of its plans for the electric mobility sector. Toyota announced that it will expand the current line-up of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by releasing ten new models by 2026, which would amount to 1.5 million vehicles of annual sales. Toyota says this new generation of BEVs “will double driving range by using batteries with far greater efficiency, while also offering designs and driving performance to set hearts racing.”
Outlining its plans for certain markets, Toyota said for the US, it will start the local production of a 3-row BEV SUV in 2025. The SUV will be equipped with batteries to be produced in North Carolina, and the production capacity will be increased.
In Asia and other emerging markets, Toyota will respond to the growing demand for battery EVs, and by the end of this year, Toyota will start local production of battery EV pickup trucks and will also launch a small battery EV model. Could this be the production version of the Toyota Hilux Revo Concept? Sounds like it.
Commenting on its range of hybrids, Toyota said it has refined the performance and cost with each successive generation, and this has resulted in the cost of hybrid systems dropping to one-sixth of the original cost, and the company says it is now able to make profit, comparable to that of gasoline-powered vehicles. Toyota also announced that it is developing next generation plug-in hybrids with EV-mode driving range beyond 200 km. Toyota says this will be achieved “by increasing battery efficiency to extend the, we will reposition PHEVs as the practical BEV and will work harder on developing this as another BEV option.” The newly introduced Prius has a 13.6kWh battery pack, and Toyota says that it has a driving distance of 87 km with 19-inch tires and 105 km with 17-inch tires in electric mode, so the next gen PHEVs will see a big improvement from the current Prius.
With regards to China, Toyota said that in addition to the bZ4X and bZ3 which was announced last month, it will launch two models of locally developed battery EVs in 2024, tailored to meet local needs. Toyota will continue to increase the number of models in the following years. These two models were unveiled in Shanghai on the first day of the Auto Show. The two models are the bZ Sport Crossover Concept and bZ FlexSpace Concept. The concept models are being developed as part of the Toyota bZ series, a brand dedicated to BEVs. They will be launched in the Chinese market in 2024 as two models out of the ten BEV models that Toyota plans to release by 2026.
The bZ Sport Crossover Concept is a crossover-type BEV with active and distinctive styling being jointly developed by Toyota, BYD TOYOTA EV TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. (BTET), FAW Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (China) Co., Ltd. (TMEC). It is planned to be produced and sold by FAW Toyota Motor. Toyota says that the concept of this model is “Reboot,” which incorporates the idea of a change of pace the moment you get in and drive around.
Toyota says it has also been designed with functions to provide a personal space for the younger customers, or Generation Z. The bZ Sport Crossover Concept is also being developed so that its functions will continue to evolve after purchase, including intelligent features such as driver assistance and automatic parking, so that owners can continuously enjoy a most up-to-date car with all five senses.
The second model unveiled today is the bZ FlexSpace Concept. It is a family-oriented SUV-type BEV with a focus on utility. It is being jointly developed by Toyota, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (GAC), GAC Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., and TMEC, and is planned to be produced and sold by GAC Toyota Motor. Toyota says the concept of this model is “Cozy Home,” to create a space that families can use safely, comfortably, and freely with peace of mind. The bZ FlexSpace Concept offers a large cabin space, ease of use, advanced safety, a reliable cruising range, as well as various intelligent functions. Toyota says development is ongoing to create a car that is ideal for families, friends, and couples to make daily life even more enjoyable.
It looks like Toyota is finally accelerating its activities in the BEV space, which is good news. The Toyota brand is still well respected in many places around the world and people trust Toyota cars when it comes to reliability, which helped propel the Corolla, the Camry, and the Rav4 to dominate sales charts in many places around the world, with the Corolla topping vehicle sales charts globally.
After a slow start for Toyota’s bZ4X a while ago, including some recalls, the Toyota bZ4X seems to have found its way in Norway. In March, the Toyota bZ4X was the second bestselling EV in Norway, selling 1,016 units and was only behind the trailblazing Model Y, which sold 7,436 units. Toyota should probably accelerate the addition of more models in Norway to ride on this impressive showing from the Toyota bZ4X. The company should probably add the Corolla-like bZ3 in Norway ASAP and also add these two new models, the bZ Sport Crossover and bZ FlexSpace in Norway in 2024 as soon as they are ready in China. Toyota could use Norway as a relaunch pad for its BEV era, just as many automakers have done in recent times.
Toyota shouldn’t just stop at Norway though, as things in the EV sector seem to be now moving at the speed of light with the transition to electric mobility happening much faster than previously thought. Toyota should just add the bZ3, the bZ Sport Crossover, and bZ FlexSpace to as many markets quickly as practically possible.
Images courtesy of Toyota
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