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Toyota to Start Selling bZ3 Electric Sedan in China by Year End

Toyota plans to start mass-production and sales of its bZ3 electric sedan powered by BYD, by year-end as part of an ongoing collaboration with the Chinese company, said three people close to the Japanese automaker. The bZ3 electric sedan co-developed with BYD will be the second model in Toyota’s new “Beyond Zero” (bZ) series of battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

Related: Toyota bZ3 Sedan Unveiled in China

Toyota has been largely criticized by activists and green investors for not embracing BEVs fast enough. The first bZ car – the bZ4X SUV was to hit the market in China earlier this year, but a deplorable recall of the car forced Toyota to suspend production of the model globally. The Japanese automaker is even giving a buy-back offer to the bZ4X buyers.

The pricing of the bZ3 could not be determined, but one of the sources said it would likely sell for around 200,000 yuan ($28,000), nearly 30% below an entry-level Tesla Model 3. The bZ3 will be produced at FAW-Toyota plant in Tianjin at a pace of 30,000 vehicles a year.

Toyota has long advocated a small car that does not compromise on comfort as the best way to popularize BEVs, but it has struggled to produce one. The need to stack bulky batteries under the floor has typically eaten up interior space unless the roof is raised. The bZ3’s configuration has become feasible primarily because of BYD’s thinner lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) Blade battery technology.

According to experts, a typical Blade pack is just about 10 centimeters thick when the modules are laid flat on the floor, which is almost half when compared to other lithium-ion packs.

Related: Toyota bZ3 to Rival Tesla Model 3 in Europe

Once launched in China, Toyota may even consider introducing the bZ3 electric sedan in European markets to take on the likes of Tesla Model 3. However unlike the dreadful experience with the bZ4X SUV, Toyota is pretty confident that the bZ3 EV won’t let it down.

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