Toyota has unveiled two new bZ EV concepts at the Shanghai motor show, but their production versions may be for China only.

    The bZ Sport Crossover Concept and bZ FlexSpace Concept preview new cars that will be available in China in 2024.

    Earlier this month Toyota’s new CEO publicly announced the ambitious target of generating 1.5 million electric vehicle sales per year by 2026. For context, Toyota sold just 24,466 electric cars globally in 2022, and Tesla built 1.3 million cars last year.

    To get to the 1.5 million mark, Toyota plans to launch 10 new all-electric models by 2026, including an EV ute, likely based on the HiLux.

    Two of these 10 new EVs will be China-specific models designed specifically to “fit to the local needs”. It’s likely the Sport Crossover and FlexSpace preview those two China-only models.

    Interior and exterior styling aside we know very little about these new cars, except for the fact they have been jointly developed with Toyota’s two Chinese manufacturing partners.

    The bZ Sport Crossover is aimed Gen Z and combined “active, iconic styling” with “functions [that] will continue to evolve after purchase”, presumably via over-the-air updates and online store purchases.

    Red mesh seats, yellow highlights, and a curved infotainment touchscreen feature prominently in the concept car’s minimalist interior.

    The Sport Crossover was co-developed with BYD and FAW, a Chinese car manufacturer based in Changchun, not too far from the border with North Korea. FAW operates one of two manufacturing joint ventures with Toyota.

    A similar development and manufacturing arrangement was used for the bZ3, a China-only EV sedan launched late in 2022. The bZ3 uses Toyota’s e-TNGA architecture, but has a BYD-developed lithium iron phosphate battery pack.

    At launch the bZ3 is available with a choice of two drivetrains, sporting either 136kW or 183kW, and both featuring a single-motor rear-wheel drive layout.

    With its more upright body, the bZ FlexSpace is aiming for an older audience needing to transport family and gear with a priority placed on “large cabin space [and] ease of use”. The concept’s off-roader styling cues does well to disguise its people mover intentions.

    Like the other concept, the FlexSpace has a minimalist interior with a squared-off steering wheel. There’s velour-like trim on the doors and dashboard, flat front seats, a sliding centre console, and a more conventional free-standing infotainment touchscreen.

    The production version of the FlexSpace will be produced by GAC, Toyota’s other manufacturing partner, which is based in Guangzhou near Hong Kong.

    Unlike the Sport Crossover, the FlexSpace was developed without the help of BYD.

    Derek Fung

    Derek Fung would love to tell you about his multiple degrees, but he's too busy writing up some news right now. In his spare time Derek loves chasing automotive rabbits down the hole. Based in New York, New York, Derek loves to travel and is very much a window not an aisle person.

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