Toyota has revealed a glimpse of the badge and branding its upcoming BZ all-electric SUV will wear in new trademarks filed by the brand. The Japanese company’s new BZ is a mid-sized rival for the Volkswagen ID.4 and Kia e-Niro electric SUVs and is set to be unveiled at this year’s Shanghai Motor Show.
Toyota confirmed the EV’s existence last year and, over the past 12 months, it has repeatedly told us that the BZ badge was nothing more than an internal placeholder name.
However, this trademark application is the first indication we’ve had on the production car’s nameplate.
We’re yet to see the production-ready BZ, but our exclusive images offer a good idea of how the finished car will look. It’ll be roughly the same size as the RAV4, but its wheelbase is almost certain to be longer to provide the most amount of space to house the battery pack under the floor.
By the same token, as the BZ’s packaging isn’t limited by a combustion engine, its front and rear overhangs should be shorter than the RAV4’s, which should provide more space inside.
Although it won’t be Toyota’s first pure-electric car, the BZ marks an important turning point in the company’s electrification strategy which, until now, has prioritised hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
It’ll be the first car based on Toyota’s e-TNGA platform, which has been developed in tandem with Subaru. Toyota says the underpinnings allow for either front, rear or all-wheel drive powertrain configurations, with varying battery capacities.
Toyota also says e-TNGA can accommodate a range of track widths, wheelbases, lengths and heights, which will allow the brand to use the same chassis across its planned line-up of electric vehicles, simply by changing the body. Volkswagen has already employed this strategy with its MEB architecture.
Back in the summer of 2019, Toyota previewed the BZ in a family of concept renderings. The SUV was pictured alongside a larger, more conventionally shaped SUV, a rakish hatchback, a small crossover and a couple of MPV people-carriers as models such as these are still popular in Toyota’s home Japanese market.
As it had a hand in the e-TNGA platform’s development, Subaru will follow-up the Toyota BZ’s launch with its own pure-electric vehicle, based on the same underpinnings. Subaru teased its upcoming EV back in January with a concept unveiled to its stakeholders.
BZ stands for Beyond Zero
After months of silence, Toyota’s most recent trademark application suggests the finished SUV will indeed carry the BZ nameplate. The brand has also spent much of the past year registering trademarks for a “BZ Series,” claiming everything from BZ1 to BZ5.
Auto Express understands that these nameplates are for Toyota’s new family of standalone electric models. The BZ initials reference “Beyond Zero,” which is the title of the firm’s public push towards zero-emissions motoring.
Some of the trademarks registered by Toyota – including BZ4X and BZ5X – indicate a four-wheel drive vehicle. The numbers are expected to reference the vehicle size, with “1” being reserved for the smallest crossover and “5” for the largest SUV.
Speaking to Auto Express last year, Toyota Europe’s executive vice-president Matt Harrison (who will become the brand’s new Europe CEO in April) said the new EV would be positioned slightly above the RAV4 when it comes to pricing, but that customers would be able to cross-shop between the two models.
“The size is similar to RAV4,” he said, “so between RAV4, which is already available as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, and this product as a zero-emissions option, we’ve pretty much got this covered. Customers would choose between these two vehicles in our portfolio.
“We’ll have to see when we get closer to the start of production what the incentive situation is, because this can have an impact on where the model transacts. But we’re trying to make sure that with any of the EVs, we don’t count on incentives to secure the business equation.”
What do you think of Toyota’s first electric car? Let us know in the comments…