The new EV has had a rough start to its life.
Toyota is a vehicle manufacturing monster: it outsold General Motors last year in the USA and continues to post incredible sales results. ICE models like the Tundra and Corolla flying off of dealer floors, but in more recent months, the brand has not been without its struggles due to parts shortages and global supply chain issues. In September, the brand's sales increased for the first time in 13 months, but its 458,493 light-vehicle sales in Q3 2022 was down 5.4% relative to the same quarter in 2021. While the Camry and RAV4 continued to sell in droves, the biggest loser of them all was the Toyota bZ4X: not a single example was sold in September. This had nothing to do with parts shortages, though.
According to the official figures, Toyota sold a net total of zero bZ4X cars in September and has only managed to sell 232 units this year. The Toyota bZ4X is the first electric car in Toyota's 'Beyond Zero' range of EVs and forms part of a range of 30 cars the automaker plans to launch by 2030. It entered 2022 facing stiff competition from the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 but was set back by a significant recall.
It turns out that the bZ4X could lose its wheels under hard braking, and the company has been offering $5,000 credits towards the purchase, extra complimentary charging, or a complete, no-questions-asked buyback. The recall forced Toyota to stop production of its first mainstream EV for a crippling three months, with production only restarting again earlier this month after Toyota figured out a fix for the bZ4X's wheel problem.
With the recall commencing in June, the bZ4X never really got a chance to make a real dent on the sales charts. A total of 2,700 bZ4X vehicles were affected by the recall, most of which were sold in Europe. Thankfully, most of the cars recalled had not yet been delivered to customers.
Earlier this month, Toyota issued a statement saying that the cure to the bZ4X's wobbly wheels was rather simple: it would simply replace all the hub bolts and ensure they were properly tightened. During the pause in production, Toyota also found that some of the units had improperly installed airbags. Hopefully, this wobbly start to the bZ4X's life won't damage its reputation and it can finally start racking up the EV sales figures that Toyota badly needs.
The whole thing is really unfortunate, as the bZ4X looks like a serious competitor in the growing EV SUV market. This Japanese EV is powered by a single electric motor powering the front wheels in base guise. It develops 201 hp and 196 lb-ft of torque and offers a range of 252 miles. The bZ4X is priced at $42,000, undercutting the Tesla Model 3 by a fair margin. Hopefully, Toyota can put this unfortunate start behind it and get the bZ4X