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April 19, 2021

Meet the Next Toyota-Subaru Joint Product

The “Toyobaru” relationship is going to get deeper. After launching the sister sportscars—the Toyota GR 86 and the Subaru BRZ, the two Japanese carmakers have now unveiled their latest collaboration: a new compact SUV which was just shown in “concept” form at the Auto Shanghai.

Toyota is the first of the two automakers to show what this new compact SUV would look like, and it’s taken on the “bZ4X” moniker. And while officially a concept, knock back cues like the yoke steering wheel, it looks pretty much production ready.

According to Toyota, the bZ4X is the first of a new series of battery-electric vehicles—the bZ series—which takes on a “human-centered” approach. It’s confirmed for launch in China, the U.S., and Europe for now where there’s significant demand for zero emissions vehicles, and a large supply of renewable energy.

“bZ” stands for “beyond Zero,” and incorporates the desire to provide customers with value that exceeds mere zero emissions. Toyota plans to unveil 15 battery electric vehicles, including 7 Toyota bZ models by 2025.

The Toyota bZ4X is a battery electric SUV jointly-developed with Subaru. It rides on a dedicated platform called the e-TNGA BEV. This arrangement, according to both automakers is a showcase of “the best of both worlds.” It takes advantage of the strength of Toyota, which boasts expertise in vehicle electrification, and Subaru, which possesses outstanding AWD technologies, and realizes driving performance that is both comfortable and enjoyable.

The Toyota bZ4X (and the Subaru version which it will later spawn) combines a long wheelbase with short overhangs. This results both in a distinctive design, and in an interior space comparable to a full-sized sedan. Its key design feature is the so-called “hammerhead” form.

Together with a steer-by-wire system (a first for mass-production vehicles), the bZ4X adopts a new all-wheel drive system jointly-developed by Toyota and Subaru with electric motors located in both front and rear axles. No details have been revealed yet, but they said that “it combines safe and pleasing driving performance―made possible by the unique responsiveness of electrified vehicles―with an impressive off-road performance.”

The concept version also adopts a solar recharging system; this cleverly recharges the battery while stationary, and further enhances the unique environmental performance of a BEV.

Toyota plans to produce the Toyota bZ4X in Japan and China. It hopes to begin worldwide sales of the model by the middle of 2022.

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