Toyota New Zealand has confirmed that it will be bringing over future fully electric products from the brand’s new bZ line of EVs, the first of which — the bZ4X — having been unveiled earlier today.
“The Beyond Zero (BZ) range will be introduced in New Zealand to strengthen our range of electrified vehicles and achieve affordable mobility for all,” says Neeraj Lala, Toyota New Zealand Chief Executive Officer.
“Adding our first battery electric vehicle (BEV) to our range, continues our journey of offering powertrain choices for customers while helping New Zealand realise a zero-carbon future.”
Toyota’s investment in hybrid technologies is unquestioned following the success of the Prius and the proliferation of hybrids across its range. However it has lagged behind some others when it comes to producing a fully electric car; Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, and more having already debuted multiple cars in the genre.
Lala has been outspoken about New Zealand’s green-car trajectory, showing both an approval of the government’s direction to lower emissions in cars with its Clean Car Standard legislation and ongoing talks about introducing an internal combustion ban, while also stating in a recent NZ Herald op-ed that the timeline targeted by the government and the climate commission are too ambitious.
In his statement, Lala noted the challenges that electric cars continue to face, with price parity among mainstream manufacturers still seemingly years away. Emerging Chinese brands at the lower end of the price scale and premium marques appear the closest to achieving price parity. Just last week Mercedes-Benz confirmed pricing for its EQA electric compact crossover, slightly undercutting its petrol equivalent.
“As a company committed to mobility for all, our priority is to offer affordable vehicles that meet the needs of all New Zealanders. This means a range of powertrain options to suit consumer needs,” he adds.
“Like hybrid technology 30 years ago, adoption and affordability will take some time. This will allow time for infrastructure, technical training and servicing to prepare itself for accelerated demand and lower cost alternatives. BEVs will eventually become a sustainable means of mobility. However, it will take time as the energy mix, battery technology and infrastructure are still being developed.”
Lala makes the admission that the bZ4X is unlikely to be a truly attainable vehicle for many buyers due to how it’ll be priced, adding that he hopes models will be able to get into the hands of a wider array of drivers via the used vehicle market.
“As there is significant research and development cost recovery on new technology this first Toyota BEV for New Zealand will not be an affordable BEV for all kiwi households and Businesses.
“Our focus will also be on how we can transition bZ4x into the used vehicle market as quickly as possible so all kiwis can become familiar and enjoy this new technology in an affordable manner. This is why we see affordable hybrids and plug-in hybrids as transitional technology and a bridge to a sustainable, low emissions future.”