While Toyota has led the way in hybrid sales, for all its talk of self-charging cars, next May will see a Toyota on Irish roads getting none of its power from a combustion engine.
The BZ4X, which sounds more like someone’s password than a car name, is the first model in the company’s new BZ sub-brand. It’s built on a new platform dedicated to all-electric vehicles, with the promise of more electric car models to come.
The BRZX has been described as « one of the most important cars we’ve ever launched » by Andrea Carlucci, Director of Marketing and Product Development at Toyota Motor Europe.
Not surprisingly, Toyota chose to offer its first production all-electric model as an SUV crossover. In the face of similar competitors from Germany and Korea, Toyota is playing its battery trial.
The company has some serious research time already logged on battery technology thanks to its dedication to hybrid power, and Carlucci says the goal for the BZ4X is that the 71.4 kWh battery will maintain a usable capacity of 90 percent after 10 years. This is the kind of reassurance that electric vehicle owners look for when it comes to protecting residual values.
Carlucci said: “We are so confident in the quality, durability and reliability of this technology that we will provide pioneering battery care with a length of one million kilometres, provided that a medical examination is performed annually at the Toyota workshop. One million kilometers equals more than 2,200 recharges, from zero to full. This equates to more recharging every two days for 10 years.”
The BZ4X will be offered in two versions: a front-wheel drive with an electric motor of 150 kW and a four-wheel-drive version with motors on both the front and rear axles, providing a combined power of 160 kW. Toyota executives claim that this isn’t just a neat family car and that the BZ4X will have decent off-road capabilities.
Toyota expects a WLTP range of 450 km on a single charge. The battery is capable of charging at rates up to 150 kW, so at fast charging stations you should get 80 percent charge in about 30 minutes.
The new electric SUV will also be offered with a roof of solar panels, which Carlucci claims will enable the owner to harness enough electricity within a year to enable a driving distance of 1,800 km.
When announcing the BZ4X’s arrival in Europe, Toyota European President Matt Harrison also committed the company that all of its new Western European vehicles will be zero-emissions from 2035. However, he quickly emphasized the « Western European » component of this goal. .
Much of this will result from improvements in batteries, not only in terms of technical capabilities but also in terms of price. Toyota’s Gerald Kellman said the companies’ expertise in battery technology « gives us confidence that we can reduce the cost of Li-Ion BEV batteries by 30 percent or more in the short term. »
“At the same time, we expect to be able to reduce the car’s energy consumption by 30 percent, which would allow us to make the battery 30 percent smaller for the same range.
« By bringing these elements together, we expect to be able to reduce the battery cost per vehicle by 50 percent in the second half of the 2020s. »
Toyota believes that at this time it will also bring the long-awaited solid-state batteries to the market, promising higher yields, longer range and shorter charging times.
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