Nearly every major automobile maker has taken the plunge into the electric vehicle market. Toyota was one of the first automakers to mass-produce hybrid vehicles, producing the all-electric Rav 4 most recently between 2012 and 2014, but has avoided making 100% electric cars.
This changed in February 2021 when Toyota announced that seven fully electric “Beyond Zero” EVs would be produced by 2025. In a joint project with Subaru, Toyota produced its second electric vehicle, an SUV crossover uniquely named the BZ4X, which went on sale in the summer of 2022.
So, why is it being recalled already?
The BZ4X Specs and Features
Despite its unusual name, the 2023 BZ4X boasts many desirable features. The SUV comes in several color combinations and has a sleek and futuristic design. The X-Mode selector allows you to switch between front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive. There are two trim levels available, the base XLE costs $42,000, and the Limited costs $46,700. The XLE trim has a longer range at 252 miles, while the Limited only gets 242 miles per charge. Neither can claim to be one of the longest-range EVs, though.
Both variants are built on the e-TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform. Specifically designed for Toyota electric vehicles, it provides a noticeable difference in cabin space and a solid foundation for driving performance, including stability and comfort.
The problem with the BZ4X Considering Toyota’s reputation for built quality and the massive success of the Prius, no one would have predicted that the company’s electric vehicle production attempt would end in a massive recall. After just two months and 2,700 units sold, Toyota discovered a major mechanical defect in about 10 percent of the units sold worldwide.
The bolts on the hub assembly can loosen, causing the wheel to come off during hard braking. Toyota has yet to fix the problem but has warned owners not to drive their BZ4X until a solution is established. All BZ4X EV orders are on hold until the issue is resolved.
The Global Recall and Buy Back
Owners of BZ4X EVs are receiving correspondence from Toyota offering an incentive package; another option is a complete buyback to keep the new electric vehicle from “literally” falling apart on the road. Incentives include a loaner vehicle free of charge to the owner. It’s important to note that the issue is with the wheel and hub assembly only. The drive train, battery, and motor are working well. Toyota is now arranging courtesy cars for owners awaiting their new BZ4X that are currently on hold. It seems the recall isn’t going well as investigations into the defect carry on.
The Toyota newsroom states that if a wheel detaches while driving, vehicle control could be lost, increasing crash risks. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this causes you.” As stated on Toyota’s website: “We would have repaired it as soon as possible, but we are investigating the details.” Unsurprisingly, the recall also affects the Subaru Solterra, the sister vehicle to the BZ4X.
A letter from Subaru of America, Inc. says that Toyota has filed a Defect Information Report with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) outlining the defect, warning owners to avoid driving their vehicle until a remedy is performed. Solterra owners are encouraged to contact Toyota for more info.
Toyota has always provided quality cars to its owners. Long-time models like the Prius and Camry have become household names because of their reliability and safety. After the first go-round with the discontinued Rav 4 EV, you would assume that its second run at making an electric vehicle would have gone a lot better than this.
Until the dust settles, it’s hard to estimate how badly this blooper will impact Toyota’s reputation in the electric vehicle space going forward. Let’s just hope for now Toyota finds a solution to keep its new SUV in one piece while on the road.
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