Colin-on-Cars – Electric happenings at Toyota

Things are electrifying over at Toyota with the physical launch of the revised Lexus ES and first views of the concept Toyota bZ4X that will be seen ‘in the flesh’ at the Shanghai Auto Show.

The ‘bZ’ is an abbreviation of ‘beyond Zero’, Toyota’s commitment not only to achieving zero carbon emissions and carbon neutrality.

The new Toyota bZ4X Concept has been developed by Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) in partnership with Subaru Corporation (Subaru), drawing on the specific skills and experience of each company. Sales of the production version are expected to commence around the middle of 2022.

The new Lexus ES is a key model in the Lexus line-up, having first appeared with the launch of the first-generation LS flagship sedan in 1989. Cumulative sales of the ES since its initial debut so far total approximately 2,65-million units in more than 80 countries and regions.

Lexus Sales and Marketing Vice President, Glenn Crompton says: “Lexus is fully committed to lowering fuel emissions and will continue to expand its hybrid offering across the product line up where possible. The ES 300h line-up was a natural extension for a luxury sedan that has had a good market share for hybrid sales over the last year. Lexus continued to command market leadership in electrifed technology and achieved a 29% market share in 2020 within the luxury segment.

“The greater number of Lexus customers purchasing this luxury sedan will continue to enjoy the luxury of choice, supplemented by a new standard of range-wide connectivity.”

As the first major update for the seventh-generation Lexus ES, the changes includes the adoption of geometric square bezels within the headlamp cluster and incorporation of the new BladeScan adaptive high-beam technology (grade dependent).

Lexus’ new luxury medium sedan can be further distinguished by a redesigned trademark-Lexus ‘spindle’ grille incorporating an L-shaped mesh pattern that emphasises lateral flow, as well as machined-surface 17-inch and 18-inch wheels for the respective grades that will launch for the local market.


The rear suspension braces of the new Lexus ES have switched from a single-sheet structure to a stronger dual-sheet structure.

Lexus International Chief Engineer Tetsuya Aoki says: “Our goal was to deepen the high quality of the ES and to add new value. In addition to further improving quietness and ride comfort, we pursued linearity in vehicle movement, in response to steering wheel operation, that is faithful to the driver’s intentions.”

A high-resolution 12,3-inch widescreen display has been brought forward by more than 100 mm compared with the current model, debuting touch-display functionality to increase usability options for the driver and front passenger.

Compared with existing technology that uses LEDs directed at the road and switch on and off as individual chips that can shade fixed portions of the road, BladeScan AHS directs the LEDs back towards a spinning blade mirror – which synchronise to provide a more delicate shielding of light than in the case of conventional AHS.

BladeScan AHS also broadens the range of high beam illumination, enabling the driver to recognise pedestrians and road signs without impeding the visibility of the proceeding driver or of drivers approaching from the opposite direction.

For the improved Lexus Safety System, the performance of the single-lens camera and millimetre-wave radar has been improved to expand the response range of the Pre-Collision System (PCS).


Newly adopted functions also include Emergency Steering Assist, which assists steering within the vehicle’s lane as cued by the driver, and Low Speed Acceleration Control, which supports the prevention of collisions caused by pedal misapplication at low speed.

The new minor change ES range will comprise three model derivatives which Lexus SA will announce together with spec details at launch in quarter four this year.


The Toyota bZ4X is more than just a means of transport. It is also a comfortable and connected space where people can enjoy spending time together on a journey.

Chief Engineer Koji Toyoshima explains: “Our target customer is someone who places importance on time spent together with family and friends. When they want to enjoy such times, Toyota bZ4X Concept can serve as a hub for them.”

The front of the car – an instant point of recognition for any vehicle – dispenses with the familiar grille and instead features an arrangement of sensors, lights and aero elements in a distinctive ‘hammerhead’ form, generating a new attitude and road presence.

The Toyota bZ4X Concept is built on the new e-TNGA modular platform, developed specifically for electric vehicles. A long wheelbase and short overhangs help create a notably spacious and open cabin. In fact, rear leg room is similar to that of a large D-segment model.

The car’s environmental profile is further strengthened by an on-board solar charging system, which enhances the distance that can be covered. Thanks to Toyota’s experience in developing battery technology for its hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric models, the larger, more powerful battery required for Toyota bZ4X Concept has been engineered for reliable, lasting performance, maintaining the car’s driving range, even in cold climates.

An authentic SUV with high all-wheel drive capability.

The all-wheel drive system, delivered by electric motors on the front and rear axles, has been developed together with Subaru. The rich heritage and deep expertise of both Toyota and Subaru have been combined to deliver a best-in-class all-wheel drive capability that sets the Toyota bZ4X Concept apart in its segment. The system gives genuine off-road capability that also provides extra security and peace of mind for drivers in all on-road conditions.

The Toyota bZ4X Concept is the first model to feature Toyota’s new bZ – beyond Zero – naming convention. By 2025, Toyota aims to introduce 15 battery electric vehicles, including seven Toyota bZ models.

On the local front, Toyota South Africa Motors is committed to support the transition to alternative propulsion vehicles, whilst at the same time expanding our Hybrid portfolio by introducing Hybrid variants of mainstream models. In addition, the development of mild-hybrid variants (MHEV) within selected LCV and SUV model ranges, will help improve vehicle efficiency and in turn bridge the gap to Toyota’s full-spectrum electric models.

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