Toyota shows battery-driven SUV with drive-by-wire steering

April 19, 2021 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Toyota shows battery-driven SUV on all-new e-platform
Recently, it seemed as if the Japanese car industry had lost touch when it came to automation and electrification. With a futuristic concept car, Toyota is proving at the Auto Shanghai trade fair that Japan's carmakers are by no means left behind in terms of technology.

The Toyota bZ4X Concept, the Japanese brand's first model designed from the outset as a battery-electric vehicle, is making its debut at the Auto Shanghai. With the all-wheel-drive mid-size compact SUV, the Japanese VW competitor wants to clearly demonstrate the change from a pure car manufacturer to a holistic mobility provider. The first two letters in the model designation, bZ, stand for "beyond Zero" and thus for a locally emission-free drive. The presented study was developed together with Subaru and is expected to go into series production in mid-2022. The bZ4X is the first model based on Toyota's modular platform e-TNGA, which was specially developed for BEVs.

Building on the battery technology used in Toyota's hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, engineers have developed a more powerful and larger high-voltage battery for the battery electric vehicle. Market observers estimate that it will offer a range of about 500 km. The battery is supported by an integrated solar charging system. However, Toyota did not give any details on the design of the system.

The technically most interesting detail is probably the steer-by-wire steering: the vehicle is steered by electronic impulses from the steering wheel. According to Toyota, the elimination of a mechanical control system results in a better response depending on speed and steering angle. It will be interesting to see how Toyota complies with functional safety regulations, which require redundancy in the form of a fall-back level at this point. Toyota has so far left open how this redundancy is implemented.

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So far, Toyota has not released much information about the vehicle itself. Participants at the Shanghai show say that the basic version will be equipped with a 150 kW engine on the front axle, followed by two engines with 160 kW each for the all-wheel drive version. However, the car is neither configurable nor available for order at the moment.  

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