New Toyota ‘BZ’ to be brand's first all-electric car

Toyota, the purveyor of the ‘self-charging hybrid’ is set to launch its first pure electric car, a RAV4-sized SUV - and our exclusive images preview how it could look

Toyota is preparing to join the ranks of manufacturers with bespoke electric vehicles in their line-up - and the Japanese brand has given us an early teaser of how its new model will look.

The new vehicle was first announced at the start of this year - but now Toyota has issued a line sketch that shows the car’s basic profile, and provided a few more details. It’ll be roughly the same size as a RAV4 family SUV - although the wheelbase is almost certainly likely to be longer than that of the conventionally-powered vehicle, and the front and rear overhangs should be shorter. 

The car is the first product of a collaboration between Toyota and Subaru on a flexible pure-electric platform - and the panel creases highlighted in the sketch make it clear that the two models are going to share more than their underpinnings. There are clear similarities between Toyota’s car and a concept that was revealed by Subaru back in January.

Our exclusive images show how the lines should translate into a distinctive-looking model with an image unlike anything else in the Toyota range - much as the Prius hybrids have their own identity. The car also appears to have been previewed in a family of concept renderings issued by the brand back in summer 2019; it was pictured alongside a larger, more conventionally shaped SUV, a rakish hatchback, a small crossover and a couple of the MPV people-carriers that still remain popular in Japan.

BZ stands for Beyond Zero

There’s no word yet on a name for the bespoke EV but Toyota has spent much of the past few months registering trademarks based on ‘BZ series’ - everything from BZ1 to BZ5. Auto Express understands that these are for its new family of standalone electric models and that the BZ references ‘Beyond Zero’, the title of Toyota’s public push towards zero-emissions motoring. 

Toyota says that it will announce final details on the car “in the coming months” and that the model “has already been developed and is being readied for production”. It will be manufactured in Japan.

Toyota calls its new EV platform e-TNGA, and says it is designed to support a wide range of vehicles, since only a few areas of the architecture - notably the space between the front axle and the base of the windscreen - are fixed. Toyota claims this allows difference widths, lengths, wheelbases and heights - and also says e-TNGA can be fitted with front-, rear- or four-wheel drive, and a range of battery and electric motor capacities. Some of the trademarks registered by Toyota - including BZ4X and BZ5X - would sit easily on a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Speaking to Auto Express, Toyota Europe’s executive vice-president Matt Harrison said the new EV would be positioned slightly above the RAV4 on pricing, but said that customers would be able to cross-shop between the two models. “The size is similar to RAV4,” he said, “so between RAV4, which is already available as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, and this product as zero-emissions option, we’ve pretty much got this covered. Customers would choose between these two vehicles in our portfolio.

“We’ll have to see when we get closer to the start of production what the incentive situation is, because this can have an impact on where the model transacts. But we’re trying to make sure that with any of the EVs, we don’t count on incentives to secure the business equation.”

What do you think of Toyota's electric car? Let us know in the comments...

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