Series production of the Toyota bZ4X is set to begin sometime in April, but the company’s first all-electric mass-market model will not be sold in Japan. Instead, the electric SUV will be offered to consumers through the company’s Kinto subscription service, the Nikkei reports.
This will happen from May or June at the earliest. Additionally, the automaker will also make the bZ4X available to corporate customers through other leasing channels, including Rent-a-Lease dealers.
According to the report, the decision by the brand not to sell the vehicle through domestic dealers reflects the reality that Japanese consumers have been slow to embrace EVs due to high prices as well as a lack of charging stations in the country.
Electric vehicles rarely appear on the used-car market in Japan, since battery deterioration weighs on their resale value, the report added. The subscription service will enable drivers to try the bZ4X on a month-to-month basis without needing to worry about whether it will hold its trade-in value.
The omission is also seemingly driven by a push to focus on bigger markets with more established demand for electrics. Volume may have much to do with it. Under a plan provided to suppliers in late January, Toyota is reportedly targeting production of just under 60,000 units of its EV globally in fiscal 2022, and is aiming to produce about 50,000 units in fiscal 2023.
That falls in line with the “low production volume” indicated for the model by the company last year, and of this, less than 10% of total production is expected to be allocated to the Japanese market. Most of the vehicles will go to North America and Europe, where EVs are becoming a rapidly growing segment.
Given the planned production numbers for the bZ4X, it’ll be interesting to see how the allocation for smaller markets such as Malaysia pans out – as previously reported, the EV is slated to be introduced here in 2023.
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