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Toyota BZ4X: Australian release date confirmed for Tesla Model Y EV rival


Long-awaited first full-EV from Toyota will hit Australian roads later this year, expected to be priced above the RAV4

Toyota has today announced more specific release dates and timing for its BZ4X electric crossover in Australia.

The BZ4X will land in Australia as a rival to the Tesla Model Y, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 and is expected to launch at a price of around $75,000.

Toyota BZ4X 2023 rear 3/4
The long-awaited Toyota BZ4X will arrive in Q4 this year

Slightly larger in size than the popular Toyota RAV4 midsize SUV, the BZ4X is a five-seat SUV available in front-wheel drive (FWD) and AWD configurations and only comes as a fully-electric car.

It is the twin-under-the-skin of the Subaru Solterra electric SUV which is currently slated for an Australian release date in mid-2023 – perhaps 3-6 months before the BZ4X lands.

When will the BZ4X be released in Australia?

The BZ4X will be released in Australia in the fourth quarter of 2023 – between October and December of this year. 

That’s a delay of about a year after the car was first promised to launch in Australia (late 2022). The release date was later revised to the second half of 2023, which the new deadline will still satisfy.

Toyota BZ4X 2023 side
The BZ4X is slightly larger than a RAV4

Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing, told Chasing Cars that there were a number of reasons for the deferral.

These included allowing Toyota dealers to build up a reasonable supply of the BZ4X at dealerships before launch, and because Toyota will launch the car in Australia as a 2024 model with an as-yet undisclosed specification improvement over the current model.

What will the Toyota BZ4X price be in Australia?

The BZ4X might be similar in size to the Toyota RAV4 – Australia’s most popular SUV model – but the BZ4X will be more expensive than that petrol and hybrid model that tops out at $55,150 before on-road costs.

Toyota BZ4X 2023 front on driving
It remains to be seen just how much the BZ4X will cost

Speaking with Chasing Cars at an early preview drive of the BZ4X today, Toyota VP Hanley said there was no avoiding that electric vehicles are expensive to produce.

“Battery electric cars are expensive – don’t kid yourself,” he said. “Lithium prices have gone through the roof…this car will not be a cheap car.” In some instances, Hanley said EVs can be double the cost of their combustion-engine counterparts.

When asked if this meant the BZ4X would cost double the RAV4’s price, he said no.

Hanley told Chasing Cars that Toyota would strive for the BZ4X to be priced competitively with the Tesla Model Y – the most popular EV in Australia and the major rival to the BZ4X.

In Australia, the Model Y costs $68,900 before on-road costs in rear-wheel drive format with similar range claims and performance to the front-wheel drive version of the BZ4X.

Toyota RAV4 Cruiser FWD Hybrid 2022 thumbnail
In the UK, the cost of a BZ4X starts where the RAV4 ends

UK pricing could provide some insight into how the BZ4X’s pricing will sit relative to the RAV4.

In the UK market, a base model, FWD BZ4X costs about the same as a top-of-the-range AWD hybrid RAV4. However, standard specifications are usually much stronger in Australia, meaning the cheapest BZ4X would likely be priced at $70,000-75,000.

With a roughly 20-30 percent increase in cost for the BZ4X over the RAV4, it’s safe to assume that local pricing will start around $70,000 to $80,000 depending on the level of equipment offered.

“The starting point will be higher [than RAV4],” Hanley acknowledged.

A $70,000-75,000 cost would make the price of the BZ4X roughly similar to the Kia EV6 (from $72,590), Hyundai Ioniq 5 (from $72,000) and Tesla Model Y (from $70,700).

Range and specifications of the Toyota BZ4X

The launch of the BZ4X model – the brand’s crucial first series-production battery electric vehicle – has been hampered in the northern hemisphere by drawn-out recalls related to wheel-tightening. It’s an issue Toyota says is now solved.

Toyota BZ4X 2023 interior

Based on Toyota’s e-TNGA electric vehicle platform, which is adapted from the company’s combustion TNGA chassis, the BZ4X has a claimed range of up to 516 km (WLTP) in moderate temperatures.

That’s courtesy of a 64 kWh-usable lithium-ion battery that, impressively, is warranted by Toyota to retain at least 70 percent of its original capacity (45 kWh-usable, or roughly 360 km range) for ten years.

FWD and AWD models under evaluation

Toyota has confirmed that it is evaluating both front- and all-wheel-drive variants of the BZ4X for the Australian market.

Australia is set to receive MY24-badged vehicles when they arrive in Q4 this year, with the aforementioned models set to receive a yet-to-be specified upgrade over the current specification available overseas.

An increase to the claimed driving range appears to be a likely area for improvement, with rival car manufacturers such as Polestar and Tesla regardly upgrading their range figures as the efficiency of battery and electric motor technology improves rapidly.

Toyota BZ4X 2023 front 3/4 driving 4
Both FWD and AWD models are under consideration

In Europe and America, the BZ4X is available in both front-wheel drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) formats.

The FWD model has a single motor producing 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque, and promises a 7.5 sec 0-100km/h sprint.

The AWD version adds a smaller 80kW rear motor for combined outputs of 163kW/337Nm and a 6.9 sec claimed 0-100km/h time. Selecting the AWD version reduces claimed range by eight percent, to 470 km.

Toyota says the BZ4X’s peak DC charging speed is 150kW, with an 80 percent charge achievable in 30 minutes, while three-phase 11kW AC charging is possible with a compatible wallbox allowing six-hour recharging at home.

Toyota BZ4X 2023 hatch
Toyota dealers are installing chargers in preparation for EVs

Overseas, 18-inch or 20-inch wheels are available depending on trim grade.

Inside, the BZ4X deploys a more futuristic theme than the more conventional petrol-hybrid RAV4. A wider touchscreen is borrowed from the refreshed Kluger while there is a small digital driver instrument cluster beyond a reworked steering wheel.

Toyota dealers to invest in EV chargers for sales and service use 

Of Toyota’s massive circa-275 dealer network, 232 have confirmed they have invested five million dollars each to ensure they can support the sale and service of electric cars. 

As part of this investment, dealers will fit out their showrooms with chargers though this is understood to be restricted to Toyota vehicles at first and will be used to support ongoing duties rather than adding to the public charging network.

Dealers as remote as Alice Springs in central Australia and Broome in Western Australia have invested in the necessary upgrades.