Pity it's not coming to the USA.
The second official Toyota bZ model leaked in late August, sporting a face heavily inspired by the Crown.
The bZ3 sedan is destined only for China and was co-developed by BYD, a vast Chinese conglomerate that builds everything from cars to buses to EV batteries. Automotive News spoke to three sources close to the company, who revealed that production and sales will start by the end of the year.
Toyota's bZ3 will be the first modern EV launched in China following a recall that forced Toyota to stop production of the bZ4X crossover. The bZ3 was also meant to arrive much earlier, but the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to the Beijing Auto Show, where it was scheduled to debut.
A source also revealed that the bZ3 would sell for $28,000, which is significantly cheaper than the similarly-sized Tesla Model 3. It will be assembled in China by a plant that Toyota and the FAW Group jointly operate. Toyota also has a partnership with GAC Motor, but the sources revealed that the Japanese brand has no plans to let GAC into the bZ3 deal.
We find these partnerships interesting, as Toyota does not enter into an agreement with a company unless it can build a car to its high standards. The co-development deal between Toyota and Suzuki is a prime example. Both brands are known for building solid, long-lasting vehicles.
Toyota has been slow off the line when it comes to EV production. It has long maintained that a small, affordable EV is the way to go, but it has been difficult to engineer such a car. A smaller platform does not have the required space to fit a large enough batter to deliver a reasonable range.
The bZ3's battery pack size and range remain unknown, but we know it will use a BYD Blade lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery pack. The latter is a cheap but effective battery pack, and even Tesla showed an interest in BYD's technology for its rumored $25,000 car. The Blade battery is roughly two inches thinner than the average lithium-ion battery, so you don't need a bulky crossover body to retain a decent amount of interior space.
Many have been left wondering why Toyota was so slow off the mark with EVs, but in a recent interview with Toyota, we learned that it would only adopt electrification in the most popular segments until the necessary infrastructure is in place. Toyota has no plans to build an electric Tundra to rival Chevrolet and Ford in the EV truck segment because it wants to do the truck justice. In other words, it has to be capable of doing everything a regular ICE truck can do, including towing and hauling.
Until then, Toyota is taking a similar approach to electrification as BMW. The Japanese giant believes there is room for various powertrain options in the future, including EV, ICE, and hydrogen fuel cells.
It's also interesting to note that while Toyota hasn't been quick to introduce EVs, it owns 1,331 solid-state battery patents, nearly three times as many as the next biggest patent holder. Solid-state batteries are widely believed to be the next big step forward, so Toyota might just be skipping a generation of EVs, as it only plans on going fully electric in 2035.