Toyota Australia has talked further on its first mainstream dedicated electric vehicle, the oddly-named bZ4X mid-size SUV, and how it fits into its electrification plans for the Australian market.
Toyota explained that its hesitance to switch over to battery electric vehicles (when compared to rivals like Hyundai) was to do with its zero emissions strategy.
“We cannot achieve carbon neutrality by simply turning all of our cars into battery electric vehicles (BEVs),” Toyota Australia VP of marketing, Sean Hanley, explained. “Half of all electricity generated will be by fossil fuels, globally, even by 2040.
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“We do a full lifecycle assessment for our vehicles, we’re aiming for zero carbon emissions across all parts of the vehicles life cycle.”
As part of its announcement, Toyota confirmed there will be an electric option of some kind – be it hybrid, plug-in hybrid, hydrogen fuel cell or battery electric, across its entire range of nameplates by 2030 in the Australian market.
The bZ4X was only one part of the brand’s strategy to have 70 electric options in its line-up by 2030, up from the current 55.
When will the bZ4X arrive? Toyota offered little extra information, other than it wants it in Australia “as soon as possible” after its international introduction, currently slated for “mid 2022”.
“We want it in months, we don’t want it to drag out to years,” explained the brand’s general manager of product planning Rod Ferguson.
The brand also issued a warning that the bZ4X wouldn’t necessarily be a price leader in the battery electric sphere, nor was it necessarily headed for widespread popularity, at least initially.
“We will reveal pricing closer to introduction,” Mr Hanley continued, “it will be expensive, there will be significant research and development cost recovery. bZ4X will start low volume, like the Prius, between one and two hundred for the first year, similar to what we’ve done with Mirai.
“Battery electric vehicle adoption will take some time, but it will not be the 20 year lead time we saw for hybrid.”
However, Toyota expects hybrid to be the leading form of electrification, even by 2030.
“Hybrid is not a transition strategy for us,” Mr Hanley continued, “we don’t see the technologies as mutually exclusive.”
When asked if Toyota had lost its lead time to rivals like Tesla and Hyundai when it comes to battery electric tech, Mr Hanley was bullish: “We’ve been leading electrification for a long time, we work on these new technologies, these projects, and we get them right – this announcement demonstrates Toyota’s readiness and confidence. We respect our competitors, but we’re confident in our ability.”