Toyota GR bZ4X performance EV is under consideration

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Toyota GR Sport division is investigating how to make a performance EV.

Toyota engineers are investigating the feasibility of a GR-branded performance version of the new Toyota bZ4X electric SUV – but won’t commit to the project until they are sure it can live up to the badge.

The bZ4X is Toyota’s first series production SUV. Toyota showed a bZ4X GR Sport concept at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January that imagined how a performance version could look, although it did not give any details of the powertrain.

While that was strictly a concept, Toyota’s GR Sport division, which developed the GR Yaris hot hatch, is looking at a production version. Daisuke Ido, the chief engineer of the bZ4X, told Automotive Daily Network partner Move Electric: “We are talking with the GR guys, but it’s still not a concrete idea yet.”

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Ido said that the the biggest challenge of developing a performance variant was not achieving sufficiency power or torque from the electric powertrain, but on ensuring it offered handling and performance that matched other models in Toyota’s GR well-regarded line-up.

“That is a challenge, always,” said Ido. “We can control any profile with a battery EV, so the feeling is very important, and we have to work out how to offer a higher power with the same mechanism. That’s the challenge.”

The bZ4X is the first production model to use Toyota’s new E-TNGA platform, and will initially be offered with a single motor producing 150kW, and a 160kW twin-motor set-up that offers all-wheel-drive.

The closely related Lexus RX450e will be offered with a twin-motor 230kW set-up, which shows how the versatile E-TNGA architecture can accept increased power outputs. Ido is also in charge of developing Toyota’s other electric models, which are due to be launched in quick fashion following the bZ4X.

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Four other E-TNGA models are due to arrive in the coming years – although not all will be offered in every market – and will include a compact SUV, a seven-seat large SUV, an Aygo X-sized urban crossover and a mid-sized sedan.

The E-TNGA platform is designed for C- and D-segment cars, and Ido confirmed that Toyota is working on a new electric platform for smaller cars. When asked about future plans, Ido added: “With the E-TNGA platform for the bZ series we can offer some variety, and a wide range of products – maybe some sporty types of car, or maybe a big car for facilities. That’s not saying we will do those – that’s just my imagination for now.”

James Attwood

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