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Toyota bZ3
Toyota bZ3. Image courtesy of Toyota.


The Toyota bZ3 Is The Electric Corolla That Africa Needs

The bZ3 is a battery-electric sedan jointly developed for the Chinese market by BYD TOYOTA EV TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. BTET is a joint venture established by Toyota and BYD Company Ltd. (BYD) — and FAW Toyota Motor Co. Ltd. (FAW Toyota). It will be produced by and sold through the FAW Toyota dealer network. They say the Toyota bZ3 was born out of the three companies’ collaboration and synergy in development, car manufacturing, and battery technology. The combined strengths of each member have resulted in unprecedented new value and new experiences for customers. The battery structure, cooling, control, and safety monitoring systems were all newly designed for this car, making its high-quality electrification system efficient, advanced, safe, and reliable.

The Toyota bZ3 has BYD’s revolutionary Blade battery. You can get the bZ3 in two options, a 49.92 kWh pack or a 65.26 kWh pack. These give a CLTC range of about 500 km and 600 km respectively. The bZ3 supports fast charging from 30% to 80% in about 30 mins. It has a rear mounted motor (135 kW and 180 kW options) with peak torque of 303 Nm.

Toyota bZ3

Toyota bZ3. Image courtesy of Toyota.

Toyota says, “the electrification system combines BYD’s lithium-ion LFP battery using lithium iron phosphate and Toyota’s extensive electrification technologies honed through long-standing HEV development Furthermore, Toyota has leveraged its electrification expertise to reduce battery degradation, with the development goal of ensuring 90% capacity even after ten years, for customer peace of mind.”

Toyota bZ3 uses the e-TNGA vehicle platform to achieve more pleasant driving, including more responsive performance, with a low center of gravity and excellent handling stability. The driving position is configured to minimize muscle strain, reduce fatigue over long distances, and create an enjoyable driving experience. Moving, turning, and stopping have been finely tuned utilizing Toyota’s expertise honed over its decades of experience in car manufacturing and motorsports. The result is a more comfortable ride for both the driver and passengers.

The interior of the bZ3 has a Digital Island system that integrates a large vertical center display with a tray-type console. In addition to wireless charging, it integrates functions for linking smartphones and multimedia, providing a new experience for customers. Air conditioning, music, trunk release, and other controls are also integrated into the large display, and voice control greatly advances convenience and innovation.

Toyota bZ3

Toyota adds that the bZ3 has a relaxed silhouette, combining the long wheelbase of a BEV-specific package with the long cabin of a fastback. Moreover, the exterior exudes stability and power and features a highly modulated and elegant profile that hints at a linear sense of speed. The corners of the bumper emphasize air guides and air curtains that consider airflow, while the flat door handles, aluminum wheels, and rear bumper shaped to reduce air resistance result in class-leading aerodynamics with a Cd value of 0.218.

So how much is this all-electric sedan in China that looks like an electric Corolla? Well, orders opened recently, and it starts at just $24,500! $24,500 for a nice sedan with a 50 kWh Blade battery! That’s a very good deal. As usual, China gets all the good stuff first when it comes to affordable EVs. While other markets are still waiting for a good $25,000 electric car, consumers in the Chinese market get another one. As there are no more subsidies in China, this price looks even better. And if you look at the price of an ICE Toyota Corolla in China where they can range from $17,000 to about $24,000, this looks like a very good deal. So, the bZ3 is at price parity with some of the ICE Toyota Corolla models. Looking at the US market just for comparison, the ICE Corolla starts from $21,550. It just goes to show how good a deal this is for consumers in China.

Toyota bZ3

The Corolla was the top selling vehicle worldwide last year, selling over 1,1 million units. It is also the all-time top selling vehicle with over 50 million units sold since it was launched in 1966. The bZ3 is only available in China at the moment, but Toyota and partners could be on to something here and should really look to sell it worldwide. The Tesla Model Y is hot on the Corolla’s heels and sold over 700,000 units last year. Elon once stated that he thinks the Model Y will be the top selling vehicle worldwide in the near future, it could well do that very soon, but if Toyota unlocks the bZ3 worldwide and ramps up production, it could help the Corolla keep its crown. After all, it could sell for about half the price of a Model Y depending on the market conditions (duties and taxes).

The Model Y is a more premium vehicle and is mostly sold in more developed nations and a few emerging markets. Toyota, on the other hand, has a global presence and is not just focused on wealthy nations. A lot more people can afford a sub-$30,000 car compared to a $50,000 car, especially in Africa. Toyota should really consider adding the bZ3 to its lineup on the continent.

The Toyota brand is the most loved and trusted on the continent, and the Corolla played a big role in that over the years. While the bZ3 may not be launched anytime soon in Africa (I really hope they bring it, though), we could start seeing it in Africa soon, especially in countries that drive on the same side of the road as China. The Chinese EV market is already starting to influence the African EV landscape. Independent dealers are already going ahead of authorized dealerships and are now importing models such as the VW ID. 4 and 6 from China. They get these as brand new and very low mileage vehicles and sell them in places like Ethiopia. Now imagine their reaction when they see an all-electric Toyota “Corolla” for just $24,500 in China. An electric version of their beloved Corolla? Expect to see these being shipped independently to a lot of African countries by these dealers very soon.

Toyota also has some presence in Africa on the vehicle assembly side of things. The bZ3 should really be an option when it comes to adding new models to these assembly plants. I hope it happens in the very near future.

Images courtesy of Toyota

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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