Toyota BZ4X electric car targeting current hybrid customers, including fleets

The first electric car from Australia’s top-selling vehicle brand is tipped to be popular with fleets – and existing Toyota owners – but the exact buyer profile is still too early to determine.

The first electric car from Toyota in Australia – the Toyota BZ4X mid-size SUV – is attracting interest from fleet operators, and is tipped to be purchased by current owners of petrol and hybrid Toyotas.

Speaking with Drive, Toyota Australia marketing and sales boss Sean Hanley said commercial fleet buyers are among the first interested parties for the new BZ4X battery-electric vehicle (BEV).

“Right now, we’re getting two factors. You’re getting people who are Toyota owners that are waiting for the battery electric,” he said.

“We delivered one to our first customer in Canberra … who’d openly told us that they’d been waiting for Toyota to bring out a BEV, they wanted a BEV for quite some time, but they wanted to wait, and when they realised we’re bringing one in, they waited.

“So, there’s [sic] those types of customers that are loyal Toyota customers.

“Then you’ve got others that are fleet customers, again, who are probably Toyota[-owning] fleets who want to go into a BEV for the first time. You’ll see those customers. And some new ones, maybe.

Having just launched earlier this month, Mr Hanley said it would take about five months to determine the buyer profile of the BZ4X, and that early sales numbers will not be indicative of the model’s popularity.

“[We have] over 300 orders so far, but we need to be cautious with that because it’s only been a few weeks [since launch],” he said.

“A lot of those are dealer demos, but we’ve asked our dealers to put demonstrators on. Why? Because it’s a new technology for us, it’s a new car, and they have to be in a position to show customers and allow them to drive it.

“So that’s why there’s [sic] a lot of demos, but we’ll be on target to do our 1500 [projected year-end total], I’m sure.”

Priced from $66,000 before on-road costs for the entry-level front-wheel-drive grade, and rising to $74,900 for the all-wheel-drive version, the BZ4X is positioned close to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (from $65,000) and popular Tesla Model Y (from $65,400).

However, the brand is banking on its badge credentials to sway customers who might be on the fence about an electric car.

It is set to launch a new “Barry’s Gone Electric” ad campaign which culminates in the titular character being asked “What made you finally go electric?”, and the response being “because it’s a Toyota”.

Mr Hanley underscored the importance of the BZ4X to the brand, despite admitting it will not be a top seller like the RAV4, LandCruiser, and Corolla.

“[BZ4X] is massive because it’s our first battery electric vehicle, it’s massive for the brand,” he said.

“It’s not big in numbers, but it’s massive for the brand, it’s a statement because our dealer network can finally say ‘Actually, [we] do have [a] BEV’, and Toyota can say to people ‘Actually we do have a BEV and we’re not opposed [to EVs]’.

“And we’re going to grow that BEV offering in the years to come. It sends a clear statement to the market and those that have been quite critical of us.

“That’s how important BZ[4X] is to our brand, it’s not massive in numbers, and again, it’s not going to be number one, but it plays an incredibly important role in our future.”

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Tung Nguyen

Tung Nguyen has been in the automotive journalism industry for over a decade, cutting his teeth at various publications before finding himself at Drive in 2024. With experience in news, feature, review, and advice writing, as well as video presentation skills, Tung is a do-it-all content creator. Tung’s love of cars first started as a child watching Transformers on Saturday mornings, as well as countless hours on PlayStation’s Gran Turismo, meaning his dream car is a Nissan GT-R, with a Liberty Walk widebody kit, of course.

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