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South Africa's foremost electric mobility platform

  • Writer's pictureIan McLaren

Toyota’s first all-electric vehicle confirmed for South Africa

Including the option of a solar panel roof.

The first of at least seven new vehicles that will launch under Toyota’s new all-electric bZ (beyond Zero) sub-brand, the bZ4X SUV has officially been revealed.

Built on the brand’s EV-specific platform that it’ll share with both sister brand Lexus and technology partner Subaru, Toyota’s first all-electric product takes the form of an SUV similar in width with the current RAV4, yet 85 mm shorter and with a 25 mm lower roofline than this stablemate. Significantly, the optimised layout afforded by this new e-TNGA-based platform allows for shorter overhangs, front and rear, as well as a notably longer wheelbase (190 mm) compared with the RAV. While this bodes well for interior space and comfort, Toyota claims 452-litres worth of luggage space in the new car. By comparison, the RAV4 offers a class-leading 580-litres. The bZ4X features a 71.4 kWh battery mounted as low as possible below the vehicle’s floor. Available with either a lone 150 kW/265 N.m electric motor mounted to the front wheels, or in an all-wheel drive arrangement that sees an 80 kW motor positioned on each axles, front and rear, Toyota is claiming an operating range of up to 450 km between charges. Noteworthy is the fact that this system is capable of 80% charge in just 30-minutes via a 150 kW fast-charge station (examples of which are now available in SA).

A market-dependant options list includes a solar panel roof able to feed charge into the car’s battery whether the ignition is on, or off. Toyota says this technology could add as much as 1 800 km worth of driving range over the course of a year.

Debuting the brand’s new “hammerhead” nose design, the bZ4X is said to be “equally appropriate for modern urban life and the countryside, blending the advanced look of a BEV with the original qualities of an SUV”.

With an interior featuring any number of Toyota’s newest infotainment and convenience technologies, the significant news in terms of the driving experience is the introduction of steer-by-wire. Designed to eliminate the need for the driver to cross arms while turning, this new One Motion Grip system adjusts the turn angle of the front wheels accordingly to allow for a “full-lock” (and a 5.7m turning radius) within a 150-degrees rotation of the steering wheel. Also unique to Toyota’s first production EV is a single pedal driving mode that allows the driver to control both acceleration and the car’s regenerative braking system solely via the position of the throttle pedal.

All-wheel drive models will feature Grip Control for tricky off-road manoeuvres at speeds of up to 10 km/h.

Toyota South Africa has confirmed the bZ4X will be introduced into our market by 2023.

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