Toyota will brand a new line of battery electric vehicles (BEV) bZ.

It unveiled a concept of the bZ4X, the first model in the new series, at AutoShanghai.

This is the latest step of a plan to introduce 15 BEV models by 2025, including seven in the bZ series.

The automaker will take a two-prong approach. ‘Mobility for all’ will focus on small-capacity, short-distance, ultra-compact BEVs and new business models such as commercialising battery reuse and recycling. The C+pod, launched in December 2020, is an example.

In contrast, the bZ series is said to be ‘human-centred’ and aimed at widespread use in China, the US and Europe, where there is significant demand for BEVs, and where there is a large supply of renewable electricity.

bZ stands for beyond Zero. The models will be built on new dedicated dedicated platforms with a practical cruising range, open ‘freestyle interior’ and ‘uniquely designed exterior’ benefiting from BEV packaging.

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The new platforms can be used for multiple variations of size and design with help from other automakers and suppliers with appropriate expertise.

The bZ4X is an SUV wwhich uses the e-TNGA BEV platform jointly developed by the two companies combining Toyota expertise in vehicle electrification and Subaru AWD technology.

The BEV platform has a long wheelbase and short overhang for a distinctive design and interior space comparable to a D-segment sedan.

A uniquely shaped steering wheel eliminates the need to change grip when steering, and also contributes to a spacious interior; the vehicle has steer-by-wire which “provides a smooth driving feel aligned with the driver’s intentions”.

The low position of the instrument panel and the location of the driver’s display cluster above the steering wheel “enhances space and also improves visibility and contribute to safe and secure driving”.

As well as regenerative energy, the vehicle has solar recharging.

Toyota plans to build the bZ4X in Japan and China with worldwide sales starting mid-2022.