The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is shown. Photo courtesy of Toyota.
April 12 (UPI) -- After pioneering the Prius plug-in compact hybrid, Toyota announced Tuesday it will sell a widely available, fully electric SUV for the first time in the United States, called the bZ4X.
The 2023 Toyota bZ4X with an EPA-estimated range rating of up to 252 miles per charge for XLE front-wheel drive models, will arrive at U.S. dealers this spring with a suggested retail price of $42,000, the company announced.
BZ stands for "Beyond Zero," which refers to an effort to reduce the carbon footprint to zero, and going beyond that to create a positive impact.
The estimated fuel cost savings over five years compared to the average new vehicle is up to $5,000, according to the EPA estimate.
Prius means "to go before," in Latin, but the company hasn't been "going before" Tesla, Nissan, General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Hyundai, and Kia, which have beat Toyota to the market in all-electric vehicles.
Toyota previously sold battery electric versions of its RAV4, the top-selling non-truck vehicle in the United States, but they weren't widely available nationwide.
The bZ4X also differs from the RAV4 since it was designed as battery electric vehicle crossover SUV from the outset instead of a conversion.
It joins a lineup of electrified vehicles, including "hydrogen fuel cell electrics, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and now battery electric vehicles" that accounted for about a quarter of Toyota's total sales last year, the company noted.
"Toyota envisions a future in which carbon neutrality is achieved through a portfolio of products with advanced, alternative-fuel and zero-emission powertrain technologies," the company statement said.
"Toyota plans to expand to around 70 electrified models globally by 2025," the statement continued. "The future lineup will feature 15 dedicated BEVs, including seven carrying the bz (Beyond Zero) brand moniker. This diverse portfolio of electrified products will help propel Toyota toward its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050."