In Japan, Toyota held the global premiere of the all-new bZ4X SUV, the first model in a new series of bZ—beyond Zero—battery electric vehicles (BEVs). US-specific product details will be shared in mid-November.
Faithful in its design and technology to its concept predecessor, revealed earlier this year (earlier post), the production-ready bZ4X is the first model to be developed by Toyota entirely as a BEV. It is also the first car to be built on the company’s new BEV-dedicated platform.
Based on e-TNGA philosophy, this has been co-developed by Subaru and Toyota. Incorporating the battery unit as an integral part of the chassis, beneath the vehicle floor, gives the fundamental benefits of a low center of gravity, excellent front/rear weight balance and high body rigidity for excellent safety, ride and handling.
The bZ4X is available with a new all-wheel drive system with separate electric motors for each axle. Its exterior design reflects both its advanced BEV qualities and SUV status, and debuts a new brand-defining “hammerhead” frontal shape, communicating the car’s strong stance.
The long wheelbase provides excellent accommodation in a light and open five-seat cabin, plus generous load capacity.
Toyota has drawn on almost 25 years’ experience in electrified vehicle battery technology to secure world-leading quality, durability and reliability for the lithium-ion unit which powers the bZ4X. Even after 10 years of driving, the battery is targeted to still operate at 90% of its original performance. (The period of use and mileage is assumed to be 10 years, or 240,000 km (150,000 miles), whichever is shorter.)
With a fully charged battery, expected range is more than 450 km (280 miles) depending on version, exact data to be confirmed later. The bZ4X will also offer advanced technology features, including a solar panel roof to help charge the battery while driving or parked, and third-generation Toyota Safety Sense with new and improved active safety and driver assistance systems.
New BEV dedicated platform. The bZ4X is the first car to be built on the company’s new BEV dedicated platform based on e-TNGA philosophy.
This completely new platform has the flexibility to be used for potential future bZ models and is designed for production at scale. Critically, the slim battery unit is located fully beneath the vehicle floor and forms part of the chassis, helping achieve a low centre of gravity, ideal front/rear weight balance and high body rigidity. These qualities combine to give the bZ4X stable and responsive dynamic performance and, with a long wheelbase, excellent interior space.
Compared to the Toyota RAV4, the exterior dimensions illustrate the design benefits inherent in the e-TNGA platform. For example, the bZ4X has an overall height that’s lower by 85 mm, shorter overhangs and a wheelbase that that’s 160 mm longer than the RAV4. The hood line is also reduced in height by 50 mm. Overall agility is reflected in a class-leading 5.7 m turning radius.
Performance. The front-wheel drive bZ4X is powered by a high-response 150 kW electric motor. It produces 204 DIN hp and 265 N·m of torque, enabling 0-100 km/h acceleration in 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph). In a first for Toyota, the bZ4X uses an e-axle, integrating motor, transaxle and inverter.
The all-wheel drive model has maximum power of 217.5 DIN hp with 336 N·m of torque; top speed is unchanged, while acceleration to 100 km/h is reduced to 7.7 seconds. All performance figures remain provisional prior to homologation.
The system offers the option of “single pedal drive” with a boost in the braking energy regeneration that lets the driver accelerate and slow the vehicle using only the throttle pedal.
Driving range and battery technology. The high-density lithium-ion battery has a 71.4 kWh capacity that is expected to deliver a driving range of more than 450 km (applying to WLTP metrics). Figures depend on version and remain provisional at this stage, prior to homologation.
Thanks to an efficient and effective heating system, including a heat pump, reliability is also maintained in sub-zero temperatures, with only a modest reduction in range compared to competitor models. Similarly, the battery can be fast-charged without compromising safety or service life: an 80% charge can be achieved in around 30 minutes with a 150 kW fast-charging system (CCS2). From Q4 2022, a new 11 kW three-phase on-board charger will be available.
Key to the battery’s quality and durability is multiple monitoring of the voltage, current and temperature, from individual cell level. If any abnormal heat generation is detected, controls are automatically triggered. Countermeasures have been put place to mitigate any material degradation, and there are safeguards in the manufacturing process to prevent foreign matter from entering the battery. In a Toyota first, the battery is water-cooled.
All-wheel drive. Toyota worked with its development partner Subaru in engineering a new BEV all-wheel drive system that draws on the great AWD heritage of both companies.
The AWD model features separate 80 kW motors driving the front and rear axles. XMODE with its different drive modes can also be selected to suit the conditions with settings for snow/mud; deep snow and mud (below 20 km/h); and Grip Control for tougher off-road driving (below 10 km/h).
Steer-by-wire system. The bZ4X will be the first production Toyota to offer a steer-by-wire system: One Motion Grip. Dispensing with the mechanical linkage between the steering wheel and the front wheels, this electronic system adjusts the tire angle precisely according to the driver’s intention, and provides more legroom, improving driving position freedom and ease of entry and exit. The traditional steering wheel is replaced with the One Motion Grip-control, making operation smoother and easier, with no need for hand-over-hand turning. Full-lock can be achieved with just a 150-degree turn.
With no physical connection in the system, unnecessary vibration from the tires is blocked, but the driver still experiences valuable feedback, such as from the road surface. The steering feeling is improved through independent control of the steering torque; steering characteristics can be changed according to the drive mode selected.
Solar panel roof. The bZ4X’s driving range can be maximized with the use of an optional solar panel roof. This captures solar energy with zero emissions and zero cost to generate electricity to charge the car’s drive battery. It can be used when the car’s ignition is on or off and Toyota calculates that it can harness enough power in the course of a year to enable 1,800 km of driving.
New generation Toyota Safety Sense. The bZ4X will benefit from the third-generation Toyota Safety Sense with new and improved functions to provide protection against an even wider range of common accident risks. It can operate as a partner to the driver to realize the ultimate mobility society goal: “zero fatalities and injuries in traffic accidents”.
By expanding the detection range of the millimeter wave radar and monocular camera, the performance of each function has been enhanced. New features will include expansion of the Pre-Collision System to recognize vehicles that are oncoming and cutting in; low-speed acceleration suppression; and emergency stopping assistance.
Additionally, a new multimedia system with over-the-air (OTA) software updates will be available.