Toyota's New EV May Offer Tesla-Style Yoke

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - November 1, 2021

For years, Toyota has been stating that it’s betting on hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen vehicles instead of electric cars. That doesn’t mean Toyota won’t come out with an electric car. In fact, Toyota’s first all-electric vehicle will be launched in the U.S. next year. The Japanese automaker recently revealed some specifications for the overseas version of the BZ4X electric SUV and one of the more standout features is a yoke-style steering wheel.

That’s right. Toyota, which is known for being one of the more conservative automakers when it comes to designs, has decided to follow Tesla with a yoke-style steering wheel of its own. While the design of the steering wheel is exciting, the tech behind it is just as interesting. The BZ4X EV has a steer-by-wire system that doesn’t have a direct connection between the steering wheel and tires. The funky yoke steering wheel only turns up to 150 degrees from lock to lock, so drivers won’t have to remove their hands from the wheel when making a turn.

This is the first time Toyota has showcased a yoke-style steering wheel in any of its vehicles. As far as we know, Tesla’s the only brand to offer this kind of steering wheel in its vehicles. We’re interested to see if Toyota will offer the BZ4X with the wheel here in the U.S., as some automakers tend to save the newest equipment for their home markets. All Toyota states in its global press release is that some models will come with the yoke steering wheel and it has pictures of the yoke and a more traditional wheel.

Consumer Reports tested the Tesla Model S with the new yoke steering wheel and absolutely hated it. The outlet found that it was difficult to maintain a grip on the wheel, completing traditional maneuvers like the hand-over-hand motion for turns was difficult, as well as finding a comfortable resting position. Because of the yoke steering wheel, Tesla also had to relocate controls for the turn signals, high beams, and windshield wipers. It sounds like Toyota’s fixed a few of the issues that people had with Tesla’s yoke steering wheel, but it’s something that you have to test before saying something concrete.

Beyond the yoke-style steering wheel, Toyota also confirmed that the BZ4X has an estimated range of 300 miles on the WLTP cycle. The electric SUV comes with a 71.4-kWh battery pack and is available in both front- and all-wheel drive. FWD models have up to 201 horsepower, while AWD SUVs produce 214 hp.

Toyota claims the BZ4X will accept charging rates of up to 150 kW. That current will allow the electric SUV to get an 80% charge in 30 minutes. Battery degradation is an issue that Toyota is attempting to tackle with the BZ4X. The automaker claims that the battery will retain 90% of its usable capacity after 10 years of driving 15,000 miles per year.

Other noteworthy features that the BZ4X will come with, at least in some markets, include a solar roof, over-the-air software updates, an external power supply function, and Toyota Safety Sense active safety features.

The Toyota BZ4X is expected to go on sale in the U.S. in the middle of 2022. The compact electric SUV will compete against the Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.4, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV, and Ford Mustang Mach-E. The BZ4X is being built in collaboration with Subaru, which will launch its version of the electric car called the Solterra at around the same time.

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Pictured: Toyota BZ4X

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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