Toyota has presented its concept version of the Toyota bZ4X at the Shanghai Motor Show this week. It is the first in a series of "human-centric", zero emission battery electric vehicles (BEVs ).
The bZ4X and future BEVs are among the e line-up of self-charging and plug-in hybrids, along with the hydrogen-powered Mirai at the show. Toyota says they are the central drivers of its electrification strategy and the company’s plans to supply the mass market with zero and negative emissions vehicles.
The Toyota bZ4X Concept is a medium-size SUV with all-wheel drive - the ‘bZ’ is an acronym for ‘beyond zero’, which Toyota says reinforces its commitment to not only achieving zero carbon emissions and carbon neutrality, but also "going beyond to realise new benefits for the environment, for individuals and for society as a whole". The ‘4’ signifies a mid-sized vehicle, and ‘X’ highlights that it is a crossover SUV.
Toyota bZ4X Concept boasts a characteristic high driving position, and 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 spacious and open cabin. 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 controls are grouped around the centre console. The digital driver’s instrument display is positioned above the steering wheel, so only minimal eye movement is required to register information.
The car’s environmental profile is further strengthened by an on-board solar charging system, which enhances the distance that can be covered. 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.
Advanced steer-by-wire system, Toyota bZ4X Concept will be available with a 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.Toyota bZ models will also help achieve the goal of carbon neutrality. Carbon neutrality refers to approaches and initiatives aimed at neutralising CO2 emissions from the entire vehicle life cycle - including manufacturing, distribution, use, recycling, and final disposal. Irish details on launch, pricing and other information will be released late 2021.
The new Toyota bZ4X Concept has been developed by Toyota Motor Corporation in partnership with Subaru Corporation, drawing on the specific skills and experience of each company, and 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.
Since that time Toyota has continued to develop its vehicle electrification, achieving greater efficiency from its hybrid technology, and realising new opportunities with the development of plug-in hybrid electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. In Ireland, Toyota says consumer adoption of its hybrids has accelerated in recent years, with hybrid now accounting for more than 90 per cent of its Irish sales and helping Toyota to earn market leader status.
Toyota claims hybrids sold in 2019 and 2020 will save more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 from the environment over their lifetime, compared to full ICE cars. And its latest ‘bZ’ signals Toyota is looking beyond zero emissions when it comes to future mobility.
To accomplish this, Toyota says it has pursued a wide choice of electrified technologies, to suit the demands of different markets and types of vehicle use – HEVs, PHEVs, FCEVs and BEVs. In addition, developing hydrogen as a plentiful source of clean energy adds a further dimension, with fuel cell technology applicable to many different forms of transport – not just FCEVs, but also heavy trucks, trains, and shipping – and for use in stationary and mobile electricity generators.
Steve Tormey, CEO, Toyota Ireland, says the addition of BEVs "will round out our low and zero emissions offering" as it continues towards zero and negative emissions.
“While BEVs are an important component of our ‘beyond Zero’ strategy, we believe that the multi-powertrain approach we are taking is the smartest way to get society to where we need to go from a sustainability point of view.
"With hybrid we can move many people to electrified driving – and importantly out of diesel as that will mean cleaner air for everyone.
"Toyota continues to lead electrification and pioneer innovative technologies, such as even more efficient hybrid powertrains, hydrogen fuel cell technology, and continuing our leading development in solid state batteries, as evidenced by more than 1,000 solid state patents we hold.”