Toyota has continued to believe in (plugless) hybrids and hydrogen cars in recent years.

Fully electric cars were too expensive, according to the company, and there would be insufficient batteries available.

But at the Shanghai auto show, the brand is now unveiling a fully electric car that will be sold worldwide.

The bZ4X Concept is in Shanghai, a concrete preview of an electric SUV, the production version of which will also reach the Netherlands in the middle of next year.

Although Toyota has been masters of hybrid powertrains in Europe for several decades, the brand does not have a single full-electric model in the range after the fuel cell Mirai.

So that will change next year.

The bZ4X is therefore an important car for Toyota in several respects.

For example, the relatively angular electric SUV uses Toyota's e-TNGA platform, a modular platform specially developed for electric cars on which many other electric Toyotas will be developed in the future.

The bZ part in the name of this study model stands for 'Beyond Zero' and is the prefix with which Toyota indicates that it is an electric model.

The number after it indicates its placement in the range and the X indicates it is a crossover or SUV.

The car has two electric motors and four-wheel drive

The Toyota bZ4X - like the e-TNGA platform itself - was developed in collaboration with Subaru. Within a few years, Subaru will also come up with its own version of the electric SUV. A mock-up of that car has already surfaced. Extensive technical specifications of the four-wheel drive bZ4X Concept, thanks to two electric motors, will be kept under Toyota for a while.

Toyota promises that thanks to a long wheelbase in the rear, the bZ4X will have the same legroom as a car in the class of the VW Passat.

The definitive bZ4X seems to be equipped with steer-by-wire technology, just like this study model.

This means that there is no longer a physical steering rod that connects the steering wheel to the rest of the steering gear.

To emphasize this technique, the Toyota bZ4X Concept gets a strikingly shaped steering wheel.

Thanks to the highly variable steering system, according to Toyota, it is no longer necessary to move your hands when cornering.

The innovative steering wheel is reminiscent of an airplane.

The innovative steering wheel is reminiscent of an airplane.

Photo: Toyota

Until 2025, Toyota will introduce seven electric models

Toyota supplied the previous generation Prius Plug-in and the plug-in hybrid of the current generation Prius with a sunroof with solar cells. In a sense, the technology also returns to the bZ4X. The little energy that comes out of this is only used for support. It is not intended that you can really drive many kilometers with it.

The Toyota bZ4X will be the first, but certainly not the last EV that the company hangs under the bZ label. Until 2025, the brand will introduce seven fully electric bZ models. In the meantime, the company is also sticking to its hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell technology. By 2025, Toyota aims to have more than seventy electrified models in its range worldwide, including fifteen fully electric models. In Europe, more than 70 percent of Toyotas sold must have a hybrid powertrain by 2025. 10 percent is then expected to be a plug-in hybrid and another 10 percent must be completely emission-free (electric or hydrogen).

While the bZ4X is Toyota's first electric SUV for the European market and the first EV to be produced in large numbers, it is not the brand's very first electric SUV.

For example, the Toyota-GAC joint venture in China already sold an electric C-HR.

And of both the first and second generation RAV4, Toyota sold a limited number of electric units in the United States.

Next year, the electric SUV will also be for sale in the Netherlands.

Next year, the electric SUV will also be for sale in the Netherlands.

Photo: Toyota