Toyota’s first EV is coming next year, but you can’t buy it.

Instead, the Toyota bZ4X will be part of a car sharing scheme in Tengah New Town.

Tengah will not only be Singapore’s next HDB town, but the first with “eco”, “smart”, and “car-lite” as its core principles. As a result, the authorities want to implement car sharing solutions in Tengah, since they don’t figure car ownership to be a major thing there.

Not just any car sharing though, but green car sharing. That’s why Borneo Motors, the authorised dealer for Toyota in Singapore, has signed a memorandum of understanding with SP Group to supply vehicles for a five-year sharing and leasing scheme that could start as early as June 2023. 

With seven hybrid models in its stable at the moment, Toyota has the largest lineup of full electrified cars (so not counting mild hybrids) in Singapore, making it perhaps the best-placed car brand to support such an initiative. These models span almost the entire range of body styles and sizes, from the compact Yaris Cross SUV, to the Camry sedan, to the Harrier and RAV4, and the Prius+ and Alphard MPVs.

By the time the programme launches next year, the hybrid range will be bolstered by something altogether more eye-catching: the Toyota bZ4X SUV, the company’s first EV, which was previewed during the MoU signing event. 

The bZ4X is sized between the Harrier and RAV4, but has a longer wheelbase and is slightly lower. It has a 71.4kWh battery, and comes in either single-motor front-wheel drive or dual-motor all-wheel drive forms, with power/torque ranging from 204hp/266Nm to 218hp/338Nm. Maximum range is a claimed 567km or 542km respectively, according to WLTP standards. 

The interior is remarkably spacious, given the extended wheelbase, and is apparently Swedish-inspired – airy and full of fabric textures to supposedly make it feel like a living room.

The most noteworthy feature of the bZ4X though, is found up top – its solar panel roof. According to a Toyota product trainer we spoke to on-site, all of the electricity used to power the car’s ancillaries, like the air-con, is generated by the roof when driving.

And when parked, all that energy goes into the main drive batteries, which Toyota estimates is good for 1,800km of extra driving range a year. Given how hot Singapore is, we were astounded by what a damn good idea that is, and wonder why no other car makers have caught on yet.

As for SP Group’s role in the partnership, the press release quoted them as “offering [Borneo Motors] accessibility, convenience and reliability through our EV fast-charging network.” What that probably means is that they’ll set up the chargers for the bZ4X and other EVs and Plug-in hybrids to juice up in between bookings, similar to the arrangement for BlueSG cars at the moment.

By 2030, SP says it plans to install EV charging points in up to 10% of all parking lots in the Tengah Park, Garden, and Plantation districts, contributing towards the national goal of 60,000 EV charging points across Singapore.

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jonathan lim

As the editor of evo Singapore, Jon drives fast cars (and cars fast). He also enjoys making everyone cringe with his bad puns.

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