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Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept front 3/4

Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept: Toyota's EV Future Takes Shape

There's definitely a family resemblance between the upcoming bZ and already released bZ4x

  • Toyota revealed its bZ compact SUV concept at the LA Auto Show today.
  • This vehicle is part of the brand's plan to release five bZ (Beyond Zero) battery electric vehicles.
  • The Japanese brand is working toward carbon neutrality by 2050.

Toyota last month teased a new bZ model in development with a silhouette photo obscuring most of the details. Today, those details became clear with the debut of the newest bZ in the family of five electric vehicles planned for Toyota's electric subbrand.

Only a few years ago, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda expressed some ambivalence about the EV movement. But the brand has done an about-face, quickly ramping up its plan to release 30 dedicated battery electric vehicles and shooting for carbon neutrality by 2050, the first of which was the bZ4x (a fully-electric crossover SUV that's has a rocky first year on sale).

Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept rear 3/4

It’s now clear the bZ compact SUV has a hatchback, which creates more cargo space in the back. Toyota says it pushed the wheels to the corner to give the bZ an “aggressive” stance and gave it short overhangs and a narrow body to reduce drag. A sharp concave depression gives the body contoured cheekbones that may indicate small door pockets.

A peek inside the bZ reveals a futuristic look with a yoke-style rectangular steering wheel and eco-conscious materials. Toyota went the cute route with an in-car virtual assistant it calls “Yui,” which responds to audio and visual cues. Backseat passengers get to join the fun, as Yui works for them as well.

Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept interior

Recently, Toyota unveiled the bZ3 sedan for the Chinese market with more global bZ models to come. While the bZ compact SUV remains a concept for now, it gives us a much better idea of what to expect from Toyota in terms of design and layout for its electric vehicle lineup. Estimated range and other specs are, as you might expect, still under wraps at the moment. That's mostly because this here bZ is still a few years away from any sort of real production form.

“We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of the Beyond Zero moniker,” said Toyota group vice president and general manager David Christ.

Toyota’s bZ subbrand had a rough start, with the launch of the all-wheel-drive bZ4X small SUV earlier this year and the subsequent recall of the model for a defect that could cause the wheels to fall off. The still bizarrely named bZ4X starts at $43,215 with an EPA-estimated range of up to 252 miles, but the bZ appears to be smaller than the bZ4X, so we expect the price point to be lower when it finally makes it to production.

Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept front

Edmunds says

For the brand that launched the game-changing Prius back in the day, the bZ has some ground to make up due to the problems with the bZ4X. We have no doubt Toyota will pour resources into this subbrand to catch up.