Toyota bZ3 electric sedan appears before Chinese market debut

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Last December, Toyota put on a concept car showcase with 11 models previewing things to come. One of them was the bZ SDN, expected to enter production as a battery-electric sedan under the automaker's new Beyond Zero (bZ) sub-brand. Car News China and Autohome cued up images posted by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology that show the production model in Chinese-market specification, now known as the bZ3 all-electric sedan. To our eyes, it looks like a slightly smaller, slightly lowered version of the Crown sedan that will soon go on sale in the U.S. The upper-spec model in white with the black greenhouse even makes small service to the bi-tone paint job available on the top Crown trim, and the electric sedan's charge port is in the same place as the fuel filler cap on the Crown. At 186 inches long, 72 inches wide, and 58 inches high, on a 113-inch wheelbase, the bZ3 is eight inches shorter than the Crown and two inches lower, but the same width, sitting on a wheelbase less than an inch shorter. The Ministry lists the bZ3 curb weight as 4,045 pounds.

A spy shot of the interior makes more common cause with the bZ4X, though. Particularly the instrument panel pushed far forward and the thick, squared-off steering wheel with a chunky center lined on both sides with vertical rows of buttons. The center tunnel features a rotary shifter dial laid in a gloss black panel of controls. Unlike the wide, landscape-oriented infotainment screen in the bZ4X, however, the bZ3 fits a large, portrait-oriented screen more like that in a Volvo. A different angle on the base trim shows what appears to be a fabric interior.

The powertrain goes in another direction from the bZ4X as well according to the aforementioned Chinese auto news outlets. The electric crossover comes in front- and all-wheel-drive trims, the bZ3 is a rear-driver only for the time being. The Chinese version of the bZ4X will get motivating internals from the Toyota-GAC joint venture. The bZ3 sources its internals from a subsidiary of BYD. That means BYD's Blade lithium-iron phosphate batteries, said to be roughly half as thick as lithium-ion units of similar capacity. The single BYD motor driving the rear axle will come in two versions, one with 183 horsepower, another with 244 horsepower. We don't know pack capacity yet, but range is estimated to be around 220 miles, which we expect describes the base trim that sits on 16-inch wheels instead of the upper trim on 18-inch wheels. Sitting on the same e-TNGA platform as the bZ4X with the same wheelbase, the bZ3 could also fit the Panasonic-built 71.4-kWh pack in the crossover and possibly variants of the bZ4X's motors if Toyota were to offer the bZ3 in other markets. Top speed for both bZ3 trims is 100 miles per hour.

An official debut is expected at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November, followed by market launch before the year is out. Toyota has said it plans to have 15 zero-emission vehicles on the market by 2025, seven of those to fall under the bZ brand.

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