Toyota used to rule the electric vehicle world but lost momentum. Now, it has launched a new electric vehicle in an effort to catch up.
The first time we heard about the BZ4X electric SUV was during the Shanghai Auto Show earlier this year, but as the release date approaches, Toyota has been making more details about the car public.
One of the most prominent features is the yoke, which replaces the steering. Despite its controversial nature, Toyota has borrowed a leaf from Tesla’s book here who put a yoke in its Model S refresh for this year. However, Toyota is willing to compromise, as it will sell a version with the steering wheel that millions of its customers are familiar with.
The yoke in the BZ4X is not mechanically connected to the wheels as Toyota uses software to translate the movement of the yoke to the front tires. Toyota claims this will help drivers make tighter turns without having to lose and regain grip. The yoke only turns 150 degrees.
Apart from ease of turning, the Japanese carmaker claims the yoke allows drivers to see the dashboard better, which is placed closer to the windshield in the upcoming electric car.
Inside the BZ4X, there is a center console which Toyota is augmenting with physical buttons. Some of the physical buttons can be found on the yoke or steering wheel.
In another rare move, Toyota added an optional solar roof that could net 1,800 km extra for the driver per year.
The battery powering the BZ4X has a capacity of 71.4 kWh, but the range you get out of it depends on the trim you select. The standard version gets 310 miles, while the all-wheel-drive version gets 286 miles on a single charge. These are WLTC estimates which are usually lower than EPA’s.
Toyota will start selling the BZ4X in Japan next year, but it has not released information on when US buyers will get it or whether they will get it at all. We will learn about pricing in the coming months.
The BZ4X is built on the e-TNGA platform, co-developed with Subaru, making its own electric vehicle based on the platform. Toyota has committed to releasing 15 electric models before 2025, all based on the same e-TNGA platform.
To support its electrification ambitions, Toyota has announced it will make an investment of $13.6 billion in battery production in the next ten years. It is also the most likely company to release a solid-state battery that promises longer ranges, shorter charging times, less weight, and enhanced safety.