Toyota’s new all-electric bZ4X

Toyota early June confirmed its new “bZ” electric vehicle brand, for “Beyond Zero,” and the first model under it, the bZ4X Concept, will be hitting Canadian dealerships sooner than you might expect.

Jointly developed with Subaru, the new bZ4X will go on sale globally in mid-2022, riding on an all-new, dedicated electric vehicle (EV) platform. Toyota Canada said it will be roughly the same size as the RAV4, and all-wheel-drive.

Globally, Toyota plans to expand to some 70 electrified models by 2025, including hybrids and plug-in hybrids; and 15 of those will be new, battery-only EVs.

While very little information was given for the bZ4X, the company did say it rides on a battery platform known as e-TNGA, and will have a long wheelbase, short overhangs, an open-concept interior, and optimal interior space. It will initially be built in Japan, but the company will look at other assembly locations if there’s enough demand for it.

Toyota Canada also confirmed that the new, second-generation Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle will go on sale in Canada for the 2022 model year, after launching as a 2021 in the United States. The new model has a smaller and lighter fuel cell; it’s rear-wheel-drive, rather than front-wheel as on the previous one; it now holds five instead of four occupants; and it has a longer wheelbase and new styling.

We might have gotten it earlier, but hydrogen refuelling stations are few and far between in Canada. Toyota said it will sell “wherever there is hydrogen,” which right now is primarily British Columbia and Quebec, but “it will go to other provinces” when refuelling infrastructure is available.

Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles use ambient air and onboard hydrogen to create electricity, which is used to power their electric motors for driving. They emit no emissions other than water vapour, but some hydrogen supplies can be “greener” than others, depending on how it’s made. Toyota said it takes about five minutes to refuel the Mirai with hydrogen.

Some hydrogen vehicles have been available only by lease, but Toyota Canada said the 2022 Mirai will likely be for sale as well. It will have at least two trim levels, including a top-line Limited, and will have new cabin styling from the last-generation model, an available panoramic sunroof, and a suite of driving safety assists.

The new Mirai has an improved fuel cell system and increased hydrogen storage, and has a projected 30-per-cent range increase over the last-generation model. Pricing and full specs will be announced closer to launch.

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