Toyota has never sold a fully battery electric vehicle (BEV) in the U.S., but that will change in 2022 when the production version of the Toyota bZ4X concept arrives. The concept made its U.S. debut at a media event at the company’s North American headquarters in Plano, Texas this week.
The bZ4X is an all-electric crossover SUV that’s roughly the size of the Toyota RAV4. Barely any technical details about the production model are known, other than that Toyota has said it will come with standard all-wheel drive.
What Toyota is taking about, though, is how the bZ4X might attract customers. Speaking at the Texas event, Lisa Materazzo, Toyota Marketing group vice president, said the upcoming EV is likely to lure back customers who used to flock to Toyota for its green credentials but have more recently turned to other, all-electric options.
"We think there is going to be appeal across existing Toyota buyers and perhaps those that have left us and gone to other BEVs,” she said.
The bZ4X is part of Toyota’s company-wide carbon reduction efforts, which include reducing the global average of its new-vehicle CO2 emissions by 90% by 2050 (compared to a 2010 baseline). Toyota’s near-term goals, though, are not as ambitious as other automakers when it comes to making and selling EVs. While Volvo, for example, has said it will make 50% of its sales volume fully electric by 2025, Toyota has said it wants to have 70% of the vehicles it sells in the U.S. to be “electrified” (that is, all-electric, hybrid or plug-in hybrid) by 2030. Materazzo said the BEV portion will make up just 15% of the total.
One way Toyota can add to its EV sales is by offering luxury EVs through its Lexus brand. While nothing official has been announced, there have been plenty of hints that the e-Toyota New Global Architecture (e-TNGA) platform will be used by both Toyota and Lexus. Toyota and Subaru jointly developed the e-TNGA, and it also forms the basis of Subaru’s first all-electric model, the Solterra crossover, which arrives in 2022.
The luxury EV space is not Lexus’s for the taking. Plenty of other players, from Audi to Volvo, already offer a number of elegant, stylish plug-in options. It’s a strategy that seems to be finding buyers. The all-electric Volvo XC40 Recharge, and the brand’s plug-in hybrid Recharge models, accounted for almost 24% of the brand’s total sales volume last month.