Toyota bZ compact SUV concept seen from a front quarter angle

Toyota used the opening of this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show to reveal a concept car that could become a small all-electric SUV.

The oddly named Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept may not preview a specific production car. Toyota says the car is “a glimpse of what the future could be.”

But it looks close to being production-ready, with a few unreal design details common to concept cars that never see the showroom floor.

It looks, in a sense, like what you’d get if you traded the Toyota C-HR for an electric car. We can’t promise this idea, but it wouldn’t be shocking.

Toyota bZ compact SUV concept seen from a rear quarter angle

“Beyond Zero” Step Two?

Toyota has long promised a new lineup of electric vehicles dubbed the “Beyond Zero.” But the lineup got off to a rocky start this year when the bZ4X SUV was recalled as soon as it arrived at dealerships. It took Toyota months to solve an embarrassing problem that could cause wheels to fall out while driving.

Behind them, this concept marks the second appearance of the bZ badge.

C-HR ratios, steering yoke

The bZ Compact SUV Concept has similar proportions to the C-HR, with more aggressive curves and a sharper nose because electric cars don’t require grilles. It borrows the C-shaped, narrow-slit headlights from the all-new Prius.

Inside, Toyota says, “The design team included several eco-friendly touches, such as seats made from vegan and recycled materials.”

View of the cabin of the Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept

Interior incarnations feature a steering yoke instead of the traditional steering wheel. Japanese-market versions of the bZ4X also get a yoke, but the Tesla-like steering arrangement does not appear on US-spec models.

An in-car personal assistant named Yui says, “It connects the driver and passengers to the vehicle. Using audio and visual light signals that move throughout the cabin, it responds to requests or commands from front or rear seat passengers.”

Mechanical puzzle

Toyota didn’t provide any mechanical details whatsoever. The company simply says that the bZ Compact SUV concept is “designed as an all-battery electric vehicle” with “fun to drive, exhilarating performance.”

This may indicate that the car is far from show-ready. But it may also reflect internal transformations at Toyota.

Recent reports suggest that the world’s largest automaker is planning to retool its approach to electric vehicles. Toyota finds itself in a steady state in 2022 with competitors launching successful electrified designs and Toyota playing catch-up.

The company has invested heavily in solid-state battery research, hoping to perfect a smaller, lighter, faster-charging battery that promises improved range. She may have kept her cards close to her chest as to what will power electric cars of the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *