Things are not going well for Toyota's first-ever mass-produced EV, the bZ4X. Toyota recalled all bZ4X SUVs and halted production only two months after launch upon discovering that sharp turns and sudden braking could loosen a hub bolt, increasing the risk of a wheel falling off.
The issue was fixed in the meantime and production restarted on October 6 at Toyota's Motomachi plant in Japan, but the bZ4X is seeing a difficult relaunch, especially in its home market. According to a Reuters report, the recall is not the only cause for the Toyota bZ4X's poor sales performance in Japan, the first market where the electric SUV became available in May 2022.
The bZ4X is offered exclusively via leasing in Japan through Toyota's Kinto unit, and Toyota has resumed taking leasing orders on October 26. To attract interest in the bZ4X, the automaker has halved a one-time fee at the signing of the lease contract.
When the electric SUV was introduced in May, Toyota charged a one-time application of 770,000 yen ($5,200) in addition to a 107,800 yen ($730) monthly lease for the first four years of a 10-year contract.
Gallery: Toyota bZ4X in JDM specification
Starting this week, the application fee is 385,000 yen ($2,600) while the monthly cost is down by a negligible 1,100 yen ($7.5). Customers who signed up beforehand are also eligible for a discount, said Shinya Kotera, president of Kinto.
"In retrospect, we felt the price was a little too high and customers also pointed this out," he said, adding the bZ4X is also available for corporate lease now.
That said, a Toyota veteran told Reuters that while the discount is "painful," it is unlikely to generate a significant increase in sales. Despite that, Kinto will still be able to turn a profit, the unnamed insider added.
Toyota initially aimed to lease 5,000 bZ4X electric SUVs in the current fiscal year, but Kinto's boss said that would be difficult to achieve following the recall and because Japanese customers have a cautious approach to EVs. The country lacks charging infrastructure and gasoline-electric hybrid models are more popular than EVs partly because with hybrids consumers don't have to worry about battery life and resale value.