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Toyota bZ4X is the first Toyota EV — and it has a solar roof

toyota bz4x driving by the coast
(Image credit: Toyota)

It’s rather surprising that Toyota, the company that helped popularize the hybrid, has yet to release a fully-electric car. Instead the company placed all its bets on hydrogen, which hasn’t proved particularly fruitful.

But, despite being very later to the party, Toyota has finally revealed its first production-electric car. Meet the bZ4X, which packs in solar panels, water-battery cooling, a 280-mile range and more.

The bZ4X comes with a 71.4 kWh battery, and the water-cooling tech is there to try and make it last for as long as possible. Heat is the enemy of batteries, and prolonged exposure to high temperatures can speed up degradation and reduce your capacity over time. Unfortunately, heat is one of the by-products of faster charging, which is pretty essential if you’re planning on driving beyond your car’s typical range.

Other automakers have come up with ways to keep the battery cool during the charging process. Companies like Renault blow cool air over the batter, while the ever-popular Tesla uses a custom coolant to keep temperatures steady. Toyota has opted for old-fashioned water and claims this means degradation will be as little as 10% after ten years (or 150,000 miles) of driving.

Toyota bZ4X range and solar roof

toyota bz4x by recharging point

(Image credit: Toyota)

As for fast-charging, the bZ4X will offer up to 150kW speeds, which it claims will restore 80% of its power in 30 minutes. Plus, drivers will be able to get solar panels built into the roof, which will be able to offer some additional power to the battery.

How much will likely depend on where you live, but if other solar-powered cars are anything to go by it likely won’t be more than a few miles per hour at best. Unfortunately, Toyota hasn’t revealed any details on the panels, including how much they might cost.

The overall driving range is said to be around 280 miles per the European WLTP standard, but that hasn’t been officially tested yet and may change. Likewise U.S. EPA range estimates tend to be more conservative than they are in Europe.

Toyota will sell the car in front and all wheel drive variants. Front wheel drive packs in a 150kW motor that can offer 201bhp, a top speed of 100mph and a 0-60 time of 8.4 seconds. Meanwhile the all-wheel drive model offers dual 80kW motors, boosting that power to 214.5bhp and reducing the 0-60 time to 7.7 seconds.

Today bZ4X interior and yoke steering wheel

toyota bz4x interior with carplay and steering wheel

(Image credit: Toyota)

Inside the car is a 7-inch gauge cluster behind the wheel, plus a larger infotainment screen in the middle of the dashboard. Fortunately, Toyota hasn’t fallen into the trap of putting everything behind the touchscreen, so there are physical buttons for key in-car features like climate control. Apple CarPlay is also supported, and we hope that means Android Auto will also be available.

There’s also a Tesla-style steering yoke on offer, but unlike Tesla it appears that there will be a conventional steering wheel optiion as well.

Toyota bZ4X outlook

toyota bz4x interior with yoke steering

(Image credit: Toyota)

While there are still a few unknowns, this paints a pretty clear picture of what Toyota has planned for the car. Honestly? It’s not too bad. Considering various Toyota executives have criticized EVs, it’s a huge surprise that it has an EV at all — let alone one this impressive.

We’ll no doubt hear more about the car at its European launch on December 3. Reservations open on December 15, ahead of a European release in Q3 2022. Pricing is unclear right now, as are details of a U.S. release.

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.