First electric Toyota gets South African launch date

Toyota’s first electric vehicle (EV) to be sold in South Africa — the BZ4X — will arrive in the country next year January.

The company made the announcement at its State of the Motoring Industry 2024 (SOMI 2024) event in Johannesburg on 25 January 2024.

“Ushering us into the electric future, is the Toyota BZ4X our first fully electric vehicle,” Toyota said in a Twitter/X post.

It also announced the first battery electric vehicle from Lexus — the Lexus RZ — and a hybrid version of the Hino 300 light-duty truck.

“The first bespoke Battery Electric Vehicle from @LexusSA arrives in 2025 — put your hands together for the Lexus RZ,” it said.

The BZ4X will be the first fully electric vehicle sold by Toyota in South Africa. However,  it offers several hybrids, such as the Corolla Cross, that have proven very popular with car buyers.

After a slow start, the carmaker is now going big on electric, with chief executive officer Koji Sato saying the company plans to release ten new EV models by 2026.

“We must first do what we can and start by electrifying,” Sato said in April 2023.

So far, the BZ4X is the only model slated for a South African launch.

Sato hopes that Toyota’s EV push will help it sell 1.5 million battery electric vehicles annually while “strengthening hybrids and plug-in hybrids” to honour its pledge to halve emissions by 2035 and become carbon neutral by 2050.

Toyota lists the BZ4X on its US website, with prices starting from $43,070 (R812,513 excl. VAT and duties).

It offers two variations of the EV in the US — the base XLE and the higher-specced $47,180 (R890,048 excl. VAT and duties) Limited model.

South African pricing for the BZ4X has yet to be announced, and it is unclear whether the vehicle will be produced locally.

It offers a range of variations in Japan, with prices ranging from ¥5.5 million (R703,175) to ¥6.5 million (R831,025).

However, South Africa charges a series of import taxes for EVs, including a 25% EV tax, up to 30% ad valorem tax, and 15% VAT, which can significantly increase the price of imported vehicles.

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First electric Toyota gets South African launch date