This is the new Toyota bZ3, a sleek Tesla Model 3-rivalling saloon that is the second machine in the Japanese firm’s range of bespoke electric vehicles.
The new machine joins the existing Toyota bZ4X SUV and is due to go on sale in China next year. Toyota says that the model is currently only planned to be offered in China, where there’s still a huge market for saloon cars, although we’ll hold out hope that could change in the future.
Interestingly, Toyota described the bZ3 as having been developed in a three-way collaboration between itself, its Chinese joint venture FAW Toyota and fast-rising Chinese firm BYD. Essentially, Toyota has developed the car, BYD is providing its advanced battery technology and FAW Toyota will handle the manufacture the car in China and sell it through its dealerships.
The bZ3 sits on Toyota’s e-TNGA bespoke electric vehicle platform, which is also used for the bZ4X, and features styling cues from its SUV sibling. It’s 4725mm long and 1475mm high, with a wheelbase of 2880mm, making it slightly longer than a Model 3.
The exterior styling features a similar styling to the bZ4X, including what the firm calls a ‘hammerhead shark-like design format’ front end. The machine has a long wheelbase and stretched fastback-style silhouette with an emphasis on aerodynamic efficiency: Toyota claims it has a drag coefficient of 0.218, which is really very good. Design features intended to maximise that range include a sculpted rear bumpers and flat door handles.
The firm also claims the model will have a low centre of gravity to improve handling and performance, while the handling has been tuned using expertise gathered in Toyota’s motorsport operations.
Toyota hasn’t revealed exact powertrain specifications for the five-seat bZ3 yet, but we know the e-TNGA platform will allow for both single- and twin-motor options with varying levels of power output.
The machine will use BYD’s lithium-ion batteries, including a lithium iron phosphate cathode. The battery structure, cooling, control and monitoring systems are all new for the bZ3 and while Toyota hasn’t disclosed what size the batteries are, it claims a range of more than 373 miles. The firm also says that it has developed the model so the batteries will still offer at least 90 per cent capacity after ten years of use.
Inside, the bZ3 features a big vertical digital display that has many of the controls for features such as the air conditioning and music integrated into it. It will also offer voice control functions.
Toyota has yet to reveal when the bZ3 will go on sale in China, or pricing details yet. It's one of a huge number of EVs that Toyota is planning to launch in the coming years.