Toyota has revealed new details about its first bespoke electric car – the bZ4X.
The midsize crossover EV is due to get a 300-mile range from a 71 kWh battery and a new steer-by-wire system. The bZ4X is due to go on sale in the middle of next year in the US, Europe, Japan, and China.
The bZ4X is also apparently capable of charging with up to 150 kW DC chargers, meaning 80% charge can be had in 30 minutes. The car’s platform was jointly developed with Subaru and allows the bZ4X to store its batteries low and flat within the car.
Some bZ4X models come with a new steer-by-wire system and an unusual square steering wheel – similar to the Tesla Model S Plaid’s. Toyota reckons that this will reduce driver burden by removing the need to change grips when steering. A quick lock-to-lock should ensure this but the move hasn’t proved universally popular in similar Teslas.
The bZ4X uses cloud-based navigation that can highlight charging stations and projected driving ranges. Voice-recognition is built-in, allowing the driver to operate the wipers and air conditioning without moving a finger.
Over-the-air software updates are available to improve performance, safety features, and multimedia systems without the need to visit a dealership. Similarly, digital keys are available for the bZ4X, allowing drivers to unlock and start their cars with their phones. Digital keys can be handed over between smartphones, making it easy for family and friends to borrow and lend vehicles remotely.
Some models will also come with a roof-mounted solar panel. Toyota reckons that these will generate electricity equivalent to 1,800 km of driving distance per year.
The bZ4X will also come with an improved version of Toyota Safety Sense. It uses millimetre wave radar and a “monocular camera” to expand the detection range in front of the car and prevent accidents.
All told, the bZ4X is a bold statement from Toyota, incorporating lots of advanced tech in a new platform. Whether consumers will take to all these changes, however, remains to be seen.