Toyota will add small electric crossover to European lineup

Europe

Toyota will expand its European lineup with a small full-electric urban SUV with a highly efficient powertrain, CEO Akio Toyoda said, one of the 30 new EVs the automaker plans to add by 2030.

Toyoda did not give a launch date for the new vehicle, but Toyota Europe said the EV rollout would be “rapid.”

“The next step for us is the small SUV,” a spokesman said.

The car, which Toyota called the “bZ Small Crossover,” will form part of Toyota’s bZ range, which stands for “Beyond Zero,” and follows next year’s launch of the bZ4x midsize electric SUV.

It was shown in concept form alongside 11 others in an online event Tuesday morning where the automaker presented its future EV model strategy.

Toyota plans to increase annual global sales of full-electric cars to 3.5 million by 2030, Toyoda said. Previously the automaker has relied on hybrid models to meet emissions targets, especially in Europe.

In the presentation, Toyoda described the new car as “a small battery EV with a comfortable interior designed with Europe and Japan in mind,” and promised it would have the highest efficiency in its class, at 125 watt hours per kilometer, or 12.5 kWh per 100 km, without giving comparisons to EVs already on sale.

“The more batteries you add to extend cruising range, the bigger, heavier, and more expensive a vehicle becomes,” he said. “Because this SUV is a small vehicle, there is something we must be thorough and very particular about. And that is power efficiency.”

Small full-electric SUVs now on the market from mainstream brands are limited to the Peugeot e-208 and Opel Mokka-e from Stellantis, the Hyundai Kona and the MG ZS. Renault is expected to launch a retro-inspired small SUV based on the 4L model from the 1960s.

The design of the concept builds on the look of the newly launched Aygo X minicar, which fuses the hatchback shape with the extra height and styling cues of an SUV.

Toyota is preparing a new Europe-specific vehicle platform called E3 that will accommodate full-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full-electric powertrains, depending on market conditions and customer preference. 

The E3 platform will allow the automaker to adjust the powertrain mix of its core products according to customer demand and availability of charging infrastructure, Toyota Motor Europe CEO Matt Harrison said.

Toyota did not say if the small SUV would be built on this platform or the global e-TNGA platform that underpins the bZ4X and subsequent electric cars, including the Lexus RZ.

The small electric SUV is expected to have a greater sales impact in Europe than the bZ4X, which at 4,690 mm long is larger than the best-selling small and compact SUVs in the region.

Toyota did not say which of the group’s other 14 electric vehicle concepts – including models from premium brand Lexus — shown at the event Tuesday would reach Europe in production form.

Those most suited to the region included a compact coupe SUV shown as part of the bZ range as well as another coupe-styled SUV concept dubbed “Small SU EV.” 

An electric sedan also shown as part of the bZ range is another possibility, although less likely given the prevalence of SUVs and crossovers in Europe.

Toyota said that “most” of the concepts would make it to production.

Other concepts shown included an electric pickup to potentially sell alongside the Hilux, a compact electric off-roader that updates Toyota’s original BJ model and labelled Compact Cruiser EV, and a two-seat sports car called Sports EV that could become a rival to a planned electric Lotus model due in 2025.

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