Toyota has revealed a concept version of the forthcoming zero emission battery electric vehicle (BEV ) bZ4X at the Shanghai Motor Show.
The bZ4X and future BEVs will join Toyota’s line-up of self-charging and plug-in hybrids, along with the hydrogen-powered Mirai. Toyota says Irish details on launch, pricing and other information will be released later this year.
This Concept is a medium-size SUV with all-wheel drive, developed in partnership with Subaru. The ‘bZ’ is an acronym for ‘beyond Zero’, while the ‘4’ signifies a mid-sized vehicle, and ‘X’ highlights that it is a crossover SUV.
The new bZ4X Concept is the latest milestone in Toyota’s journey to achieve zero emissions that began more than 20 years ago with the launch of the original Prius, the world’s first mass-production hybrid electric car.
Toyota says the concept car’s exterior design anticipates people’s high expectations of an electric vehicle driving experience without having to make compromises. The SUV has a characteristic high driving position, but still appears planted on the road. The bodywork presents sensuous surfaces, combined with precise and high-tech styling.
The front of the car dispenses with the familiar grille and instead features an arrangement of sensors, lights, and aero elements in a distinctive “hammerhead” form.
The Toyota bZ4X Concept is built on the new e-TNGA modular platform, developed specifically for electric vehicles. A long wheelbase and short overhangs help create a notably spacious and open cabin.
The brand says the front cabin is designed around a “drive module” which gives the driver a sense of direct connection to the road and to important information. The low-set instrument panel opens up panoramic visibility and emphasises the sense of space. Controls are grouped around the centre console, designed for easy recognition and operation. The digital driver’s instrument display is positioned above the steering wheel, so only minimal eye movement is required to register information.
Toyota also claims that the bZ4X concept will “deliver class-leading efficiency and a very competitive driving range”. It adds that the car’s environmental profile is further strengthened by an on-board solar charging system, which enhances the distance that can be covered.
It further boasts that thanks to Toyota’s extensive experience in developing battery technology for its hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric models, the larger, more powerful battery required for Toyota bZ4X Concept has been engineered for reliable, lasting performance, maintaining the car’s driving range, even in cold climates.
Toyota’s bZ4X Concept will be available with a claimed world-first combination of a steering yoke and a steer-by-wire system. This technology gives the driver greater control, removing interference from rough road surfaces and braking, thereby giving a more precise response in line with the vehicle’s speed and steering angle.
Steer-by-wire also dispenses with the traditional, circular steering wheel, replacing it with a new adaptive grip control. The technology eliminates the need for the driver to move their hands around the wheel as they make a turn, adding to the car’s fun-to-drive quality.
This feature will be introduced first in China before being made available worldwide.
Commenting on the announcement, Steve Tormey, CEO, Toyota Ireland said: “Today’s announcement is another great example of our ‘Built for a Better World’ brand purpose, and we are excited about the forthcoming addition of BEVs to round out our low and zero emissions offering as we continue our journey towards zero and negative emissions.”