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Toyota is one of the most experienced automotive brands in the world of hybrids, but it’s been slow to adapt to EVs. The Japanese automaker only has one EV in its lineup for 2023 – the 2023 Toyota bZ4X SUV. It’s intended to be the first in a larger bZ family of EVs.

The Toyota bZ4X is a compact electric SUV positioned to compete with the likes of the Nissan Ariya, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Volkswagen ID.4. It has a few things going for it, like a comfortable, high-tech interior and the usual generous list of standard safety features for a Toyota. However, the cargo space is tight, and it maxes out at 252 miles of range – just OK for this class. Also, the $42,000 starting price makes it a tough sell compared to the multiple hybrid SUVs in the Toyota lineup priced well below that.

Toyota EV sales are weak so far

A red 2023 Toyota BZ4X XLE in front of a gray background.
2023 Toyota bZ4X | Toyota

According to data on Good Car Bad Car, only 2,432 units of the Toyota bZ4X have sold so far in 2023. By comparison, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 has sold 8,059 units, the Kia EV6 has sold 4,633 units, and the Ford has sold 7,013 Mustang Mach-E models in the same time frame.

A few reasons could explain the slow sales of the Toyota bZ4X. For starters, it’s competing with some of the best hybrid SUVs on the market at its own dealerships. For example, the aforementioned Toyota Venza is a midsize hybrid SUV with a starting price of $34,620, and it’s sold 9,215 units so far in 2023. That beats the sales of the bZ4X by 278 percent.

It’s worth looking at Toyota’s overall sales this year. According to Reuters, Toyota sales fell 8.8 percent in the first quarter of 2023 compared to Q1 of 2022. “We continue to make improvements to our vehicle inventory to satisfy customer demand,” Toyota Motors North America executive vice president Jack Hollis said, “while doing all we can to exceed expectations as we introduce more electrified vehicles throughout the balance of 2023.” Remember, “electrified” is a catch-all term that covers conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and EVs. The new electrified models Hollis is referring to likely include the hybrid versions of the Corolla Cross, Tundra, Sequoia, and the upcoming Toyota Tacoma i-FORCE MAX.

Also, production of the bZ4X has been slow because of the ongoing chip shortage. It also had the issue of a recall in 2022 to remedy loose lugnuts that can cause the wheels to fall off. These factors, combined with the low market share of EVs in general, at least partially explain why Toyota sells exponentially more hybrids and conventional gas-powered cars than EVs.

More Toyota EVs are on the way

Reuters reports that Toyota is developing a specialized unit to develop more EVs using next-generation battery tech. This will add much more than just the 2023 Toyota bZ4X to its electrified lineup. Toyota aims to create 10 new all-electric vehicles and sell 1.5 million EVs annually by 2026.

“In the next few years we will expand our line-up in the important battery electric category,” Chief Executive Koji Sato said in his first press briefing as CEO. However, those Toyota EVs will likely continue being outsold by Toyota’s gas and hybrid cars for years to come.


Why Isn’t Anyone Buying the Toyota bZ4X?