Toyota today (Oct. 24) announced the launch of a small all-electric sedan developed jointly with Chinese auto giant BYD. The car, called Toyota bZ3, will be powered by BYD batteries and made and sold in China first.
Toyota is a leader in hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and has sold more than 20 million partially electric cars globally. But it’s notably slow to embrace all-electric cars, compared with its rival auto giants like Volkswagen and General Motors. Toyota has stuck with hybrid and gas cars because of constrained battery production capacity and management’s belief that there’s not enough demand for battery EVs, the company has said in the past.
That strategy seems to be changing—with a rocky start. In May, Toyota unveiled its first fully battery-powered car, a SUV called bZ4X, as part of its Beyond Zero (bZ) series of battery electric vehicles. However, before Toyota could ramp up production, it had to recall most of bZ4Xs on the road out of fear that the car’s wheels might fall off.
BZ3, sized similarly to the Toyota Corolla, is the second offering under the Beyond Zero series. The Japanese carmaker claims the car can achieve a maximum driving range of 372 miles on a single charge, thanks to BYD’s Blade lithium-ion LFP battery and Toyota’s electrification technologies honed through its development of hybrid vehicles, according to a press release.
Toyota didn’t say when bZ3 will be available in showrooms or how much it will retail for.