The close relationship between Toyota and Subaru goes beyond powertrains and their respective RWD sportscars called the GR 86 and BRZ because the two companies will also co-develop their upcoming electric crossover SUV. The Toyota bZ4X Concept is a near-production ready prototype that serves as a preview of what we can expect from the two brands when it comes to their fully electric vehicles (EV).
According to the press release, the new Toyota bZ series of electric vehicles takes on a “human-centered” approach aimed at widespread use in regions such as China, the U.S., and Europe, where there is significant demand for BEVs, and where there is a large supply of renewable electricity. “bZ” stands for “beyond Zero,” and incorporates the desire to provide customers with value that exceeds mere “zero emissions.”
From a design perspective, the Toyota bZ4X looks quite sharp and radical. Upfront, you get a pair of slim LED headlights, a front bumper that’s been sculpted to look like it has a grille, and front wheel arches that extend toward the headlights. The side profile also looks sleek, with plenty of creases and even a wide shoulder to make this electric SUV look sporty and dynamic. A steeply-raked roofline flows neatly towards the rear fascia that features full-width LED taillights, which seem to be a design trend nowadays.
While the exterior looks very radical, the interior looks much more conventional. Well, except for the part that it has a Y-shaped yoke-style steering wheel like in the refreshed 2021 Tesla Model S. Apart from that, the interior looks pretty much ready for mass production. Drivers are greeted by a digital gauge cluster surrounded by a bowl-like binnacle and a large infotainment screen. There’s also a rotary gear selector just below it, which seems to also be an electric car thing nowadays.
The Toyota bZ4X rides on the company’s new dedicated EV platform called e-TNGA, which has been co-developed with Subaru. Because this is a platform developed from the ground up exclusively for EVs, the bZ4X will not suffer from the constraints of building an electric car from a platform designed to accommodate a combustion engine. This means it should have more interior space due to the lack of any driveshaft tunnel and even have a front trunk.
No powertrain details or range have been specified yet, though Toyota says that 15 more EVs utilizing the bZ nameplate will be coming out in the next few years.
While Toyota has been a pioneer of the hybrid vehicle, they’ve been slow and reluctant in embracing the shift towards EVs. Thankfully, that is all changing with its upcoming bZ lineup of EVs. Toyota aims to release the production bZ4X in the middle of 2022, with production to commence in Japan and China.