Toyota’s surprising announcement to launch a slew of fully electric vehicles by 2025 may have caught many by surprise. Despite having shown the bZ4X Concept at the Shanghai auto show in April, the automaker remains rather conservative about early adoption.
Toyota Europe CEO Matthew Harrison told Automotive News Europe that the bZ4X will probably be a low-volume model at the beginning. This is because the current RAV4 – with its regular ICE and plug-in hybrid powertrain – can already help the automaker meet the EU’s emission standards up until 2025.
It’s also too early to give volume projection for the sleek new electric SUV for 2023, “because we haven’t really given pricing to the markets and validated the volume distribution,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say that we still expect the RAV4, in hybrid and plug-in form, to be the dominant model in this segment through to 2025,” when the next round of emissions cuts are due, Harrison continued.
The RAV4 is a very popular compact SUV in Europe, with 91,014 units sold (fifth best-selling model) in the continent alone, according to market research firm JATO Dynamics. It trails behind pack leader Volkswagen Tiguan with 136,616 units sold, and the Toyota CH-R at 101,910 units.
When the bZ4X goes on sale next year, it will rival the Volkswagen ID.4 and Tesla Model Y. Toyota may seem to be playing it safe with projections, but it is considering building full electric vehicles in Europe. For now, the report said European-bound bZ4X will be imported from Japan, but it should be noted that Toyota has six assembly plants in the continent (Czech Republic, France, Portugal, Russia, Turkey and the UK).
“We have a strategy that says we build where we sell, and certainly that volume of sales would necessitate local production,” Harrison explained. “We will bring some zero emission vehicles into the line-up prior to 2025, but not at the volume that it makes sense to initially produce locally. We’re expecting to see further acceleration from 2025 to 2030 – this is when we’ll really see the more dramatic shift in terms of full electrification,” he added.
To recap, the bZ4X is the first of Toyota’s upcoming beyond Zero (bZ) range of models, a fully electric C-segment SUV that it’s jointly developing with Subaru. It rides on the modular e-TNGA platform, and is said to be fitted with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system. Toyota promises best-in-class AWD performance with “genuine off-road capability,” though no details about performance and range have been announced yet.
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