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Toyota announces production bZ4X BEV in Japan, shows off steering yoke

Toyota’s first bZ vehicle is getting closer to production, and now we have more details on what to expect as it rolls out in Japan, and then for other markets. This beyond Zero lineup starts with the 4X.

The bZ4X here is the first of seven bZ models to be introduced by 2025, and chases after four target core values. You & Others highlights comfortable cabins but also opportunity to spend time with family and friends. You & Your Car is about joy of driving an EV. You & the Environment focuses on reduction of emissions and positive contributions to the environment. You & Society is about greater a safer society for all and greater peace of mind.

So what does that all mean? In the bZ4X, that means taking advantage of an all new platform to maximize interior space. It means excellent visibility from a low instrument panel and extra light from a large panoramic roof. It means highlighting the quietness of the BEV platform and improving noise and vibrations.

Toyota BZ4X 4
Photo credit: Toyota

The bZ4X has a heat pump to help maintain climate in cold settings, while retaining more range. The bZ4X even has radiant front seat foot heating, which is a first for Toyota.

The low center of gravity improves driving performance, and Subaru’s AWD technology improves handling in both the dry and in adverse conditions.

The infotainment system is cloud based and allows for over the air updates, and has enhanced voice recognition that can even operate car functions like turning on the windshield wipers. Some vehicles will support phone-based digital key functions, like what competitors from Tesla and Polestar are doing.

Some models will have a solar roof instead of a panoramic glass roof, which Toyota claims can add 1,800 km of driving distance per year. Plus, as long as there is sunlight, the car will eventually charge so you’re not completely stranded if you run out of juice or if the power goes out.

A 71.4 kWh battery pack can be charged at up to 150 kWs, which Toyota claims can get the bZ4X to 80% state of charge in 30 minutes. The all-wheel drive version can get to 62 mph in 7.7 seconds from an approximately 215 hp dual electric motor setup. A front-drive version is also available with 201 hp and a 8.4 second 0 to 62 mph time.

Toyota is claiming a 500 km range for the front-drive version, and 460 km for the all-wheel drive version. That would be 311 miles and 286 miles, respectively. That’s under WLTP testing, which tends to be overly optimistic. We’d expect EPA range to be closer to 290 when it goes on sale in mid-2022.

There is one thing we didn’t mention, though, and if you look through our photos you’ll quickly see it. It appears that Toyota is changing up the steering wheel game on some models.

The bZ4X has a steer by wire system, which Toyota calls One-motion grip, that only requires 150 degrees of turning to go from lock to lock. That means drivers won’t have to cross their hands over to park.

Because of that, Toyota is offering that setup with a yoke. That’s right, a yoke. It’s not just on the Tesla Model S and Model Y anymore.

Toyota BZ4X 6
Photo credit: Toyota

Here’s straight from the news release describing the benefits;

  • Lock-to-lock is set at around 150 degrees, eliminating the need to change grips when steering, greatly reducing the burden on the driver for U-turn, garage parking and on winding roads
  • The steering feeling is improved through independently controlling the steering torque that the driver feels and the steering angle of the tires. Steering characteristics can be changed with drive mode select
  • Blocks unnecessary vibrations from tires and only transmits necessary vibrations such as road information. System controls tire movement to ensure vehicle stability when driving on uneven surfaces or when Lane Tracing Assist is activated
  • One-motion grip provides more legroom, improving driving position freedom and ease of entry and exit

The yoke is debuting in the Chinese market, but it will start to be fitted to other vehicles in other markets after that.

We’re not sure how much this will cost when it goes on sale, but we expect it to be competitive with the VW ID.4, Mustang Mach-E, and Tesla Model 3. We look forward to driving it, yoke and all, next year.

Written by Chad Kirchner
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