Toyota‘s second ‘bZ series’ electric vehicle (EV) has been spied wearing some simple all-black camouflage on the streets of China.
It’s believed this is the vehicle that Toyota is co-developing with Chinese giant BYD, as reported back in December 2021. It will likely be exclusively produced and sold in China.
At the time, four undisclosed sources told Reuters this car would be an all-electric sedan with “key technology to finally make an affordable yet roomy runaround”. The EV was also likened to “a Corolla with bigger back-seat section”.
Going off the spy photos shared by Cochespias, this camouflaged sedan prototype bears a lot of resemblance to the Toyota bZ SDN concept the Japanese automaker showed off among 15 others in December 2021.
At the front, the prototype appears to retain the same headlight signature as the concept with four square elements. Going off the outline on the camouflaged prototype, the wrap-around light strip is expected to stay as well.
The front bumper seems to still have the same angular and sporty silhouette as the bZ SDN concept with a trapezoidal lower air intake, and thin side air vents.
Around the side is where this EV looks the most like a Corolla sedan, yet it also has elements of the Tesla Model 3.
The side profile retrains the classic sedan shape with a rounded glasshouse and marries it with scooped-out door sections and a creased bonnet. The wheels are also all covered with flat camouflage plates.
Just like the bZ SDN concept, this spied prototype has similarly shaped side windows which amplifies how the rear section has been stretched in comparison to a regular Corolla. Extended-length sedan remain popular in the Chinese market.
Around the back of the camouflaged prototype appears to be another full-width light bar for the tail lights, along with a subtle boot lip spoiler and a rear diffuser.
The rotary gear selector and steering wheel also look like they have been pulled straight from the bZ4x.
It’s unclear what will power this all-electric version of the Corolla sedan, but we do know that it’s expected to use BYD’s lithium iron phosphate (LFP) Blade batteries.
“The car was enabled by BYD battery technology,” said an undisclosed source to Reuters.
“It has more or less helped us resolve challenges we had faced in coming up with affordable small electric sedan with a roomy interior.”
BYD first launched its LFP Blade battery in 2020. It’s said to be around 10cm thick when the modules are laid flat on the floor, which is roughly five to 10cm thinner than lithium-ion battery packs.
LFP batteries are currently used in a number of EVs including the Chinese-made Tesla Model 3 and Model Y.
Although this battery chemistry is less energy-dense than lithium-ion cells and can perform worse in cold weather, LFP batteries are cheaper, less likely to overheat, don’t use cobalt or nickel, and can be fully-charged more often without fear of degradation.
One source told Reuters this bZ sedan would likely cost less than ¥200,000 ($A41,670) and would reportedly slot between the budget Wuling Hongguang and more premium EVs such as the Nio ES6 and Tesla Model 3.
This new Toyota bZ sedan was originally expected be unveiled at the 2022 Beijing motor show in April, although this didn’t happen. It’s unclear when it will actually be revealed.
Toyota currently plans to reveal 15 EVs it will make available globally by 2025, with seven of these to be under the bZ moniker.
Its first bZ model, the bZ4x mid-size crossover, has had its Australian launch delayed until 2023.