Toyota arrives with the bZ4X. But the start is hectic with a case of impossible refills in cold weather.
The Toyota bZ4X is the Japanese brand’s first electric SUV. It also serves as the basis for the Subaru Solterra and Lexus RZ450e, which nevertheless takes off in terms of style. He rests, therefore, on his tortured wings of great ambitions. But a perfectible development of your battery would cause serious charging problems in cold weather.
It is a recent statement released by Toyota USA that set the gunpowder on fire in North American markets, especially Canada. According to this document entitled “Five things to know about the Toyota bZ4X”the Japanese brand has surprising reservations about charging its electric SUV.
Toyota bZ4X could not be recharged below -20°C
At the end of the press release, Toyota indicates that the charging time may be extended. “significantly” below 10°C. More surprisingly, AWD models would be even more affected than others below 0°C with a recharge that “may not be possible” when the temperature drops below -20°C. In addition, Toyota specifies that more than two quick recharges per day “may adversely affect loading time”.
This surprised our North American colleagues, who fear that customers will not be able to enjoy their Toyota bZ4X in the winter. Especially since it is the four-wheel drive versions that will be popular in these regions where temperatures can reach -20°C. For now, Toyota has not provided any additional information on this matter.
A CATL battery at the heart of the problem?
Remember that the Toyota bZ4X AWD is equipped with a CATL unit with a capacity of 71.4 kWh. It can aim for a maximum power of 150 kW in direct current in a fast charging station. Once full, it can hold a full charge for 450 km. In turn, the traction version is not particularly affected by this load issue. The difference ? It has a Panasonic battery.
How then can Toyota market models with recognized youth problems? This is the point. But this new case highlights the dark side of the electric car. For now, this problem is akin to faulty development and hasty commercialization of the SUV.
Let’s just note that Toyota is not the only one, and many other brands have reached the “under pressure” segment of managements and shareholders. This has led the Research and Development departments to accelerate development, even if it means launching very finished vehicles: the Fiat 500e (fast charging problem), Lexus UX300e (compatibility problem with some fast terminals) or Volkswagen ID.3 (software partially finalized at launch), there are so many other examples that we can cite.
The reservations of rigor in the announced performances
But also, the characteristics of the electric car are very sensitive to external factors. Consumption (and therefore range) can vary from single to double, depending on the ambient temperature or the profile of the road travelled. Same note in terms of billing. So many users feel cheated when they first put the wheels on the road in cold weather, and are surprised by a staggered range of around 40% over the WLTP value.
Since then, with the specter of Dieselgate still lurking in the automotive sector, manufacturers are increasingly issuing reservations to avoid a resounding feedback from customers and authorities. Toyota’s grade appears to be one, with conditional stringency. But this is also the case for Volkswagen, the last one we’ve noticed so far: the press release accompanying the presentation of the new ID.5 GTX specifies that the advertised maximum power of 299 hp (220 kW) can be available for 30 seconds, with a battery temperature between 23 and 50°C, with a charge rate of more than 88% and depending on the physical conditioning and aging of the battery!