It's just a concept for now, but it could become an actual bZ model.
The Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept just debuted at the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show, which is the perfect location to introduce a brand-new EV. Toyota says it's not a production model but merely a glimpse of the future if it builds more models under the bZ (Beyond Zero) umbrella. To date, only the bZ4X is available in the States.
As we know, the second bZ model already made its debut in China earlier this year, but it won't be sold in the USA. We also know Toyota's EV future is uncertain, and the brand is currently in the process of culling several future models it showcased near the end of 2021.
While the above may represent Toyota's current feelings regarding EVs, the bZ Compact Concept proves that the Japanese giant is still serious about building EVs in the future.
"We've only just begun to scratch the surface of the Beyond Zero moniker," said Toyota group vice president and general manager David Christ. "With an aerodynamic design coupled with intuitive tech features never before seen in a Toyota model, the bZ Concept showcases another possible vision of the very near future with our battery electric vehicles."
Toyota is investing in several alternative fuel sources while keeping ICE alive, but it also knows that BEVs will be part of that future, so why not lean into it? This concept was designed to express "what's special about battery electric vehicles while also offering fun to drive, exhilarating performance."
EVs aren't beholden to the regular rules of design, and this concept is the physical manifestation of this freedom. Check out the folded displays as an example.
The design is edgy but functional. Like the all-new Prius, the bZ Compact Concept was designed with next-level aerodynamic efficiency in mind. The wheels were pushed to the corners to give it an imposing stance. This change also allowed more freedom with the roofline, which resulted in low levels of drag - critical to maximizing efficiency.
Like many other manufacturers, Toyota takes a holistic approach to environmental friendliness. While it's true that no car on the planet is 100% emissions-free, manufacturers can help the process by using eco-friendly, sustainable materials on the outside and inside. In the case of the Compact Concept, the seats were made from plant-based and recycled materials.
Speaking of the interior, this concept likely also previews the result of Toyota's partnership with Google. It has an in-car personal agent called Yui. it responds to requests or commands from the front or rear passengers. It's likely activated by saying, "Hey, Yui," which might be tricky for some of the heavier accents out there.
Despite showcasing what might be the next bZ model, Toyota also used the opportunity to make its stance on the future clear, just in case its CEO hasn't done a good enough job already.
"Toyota envisions a future in which carbon neutrality is achieved through the practical marketization of a portfolio of products with advanced, alternative-fuel, and zero-emission powertrain technologies," said the automaker in a press release. "Globally, Toyota plans to expand to around 30 dedicated BEVs, including five carrying the bZ (Beyond Zero) brand moniker. This diverse portfolio of electrified products will help propel Toyota toward its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050."
Toyota still thinks ICE has a future and isn't keen to jump on the EV bus train just because it needs to. Some models just aren't suited to electrification, and we applaud Toyota for taking such a strong stance on the matter.