It’s not like Toyota to get something so wrong, but there’s really no other way to describe the launch of the bZ4X — and its Subaru Solterra twin — which has seen the wheels come off (bad pun intended) the Japanese giant’s grand EV ambitions.
This was supposed to be the EV that showed the world how good electric cars can be when ‘real’ car makers throw their weight behind them, after all. The one that would show Tesla — and his fans — how it’s really done.
Instead, it’s done the exact opposite, with Toyota in the USA recalling every single bZ4X sold to customers – and those yet to be delivered – after discovering the wheels on the vehicles could fall off while driving. Toyota says the issue impacts 2200 vehicles destined for Europe, 280 examples in the US and Canada, and 110 units in Japan.
“After low-mileage use, all of the hub bolts on the wheel can loosen to the point where the wheel can detach from the vehicle,” the notice read. “If a wheel details from the vehicle while driving, it could result in a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash. The cause of the issue and the driving patterns under which this issue could occur are still under investigation.”
The brand then asked those who had taken delivery of the vehicle to stop driving until an official recall was issued and a fix performed.
So, a pretty major issue concerning your biggest electric vehicle. Not a great start. But had Toyota been able to quickly determine a fix and get the cars back on the road, also not likely terminal.
But the plot thickens. Because that news first broke in June. In late July, there still wasn’t a fix. Forcing Toyota into new action.
America’s Electrek recently scooped a new customer letter sent to bZ4X owners in the USA, essentially pointing out that they still can’t drive their vehicles, that there’s no fix and no date on when one will be available, but that the brand will:
- Continue to provide a loaner vehicle, and store your vehicle, at no cost
- Reimburse your fuelling costs incurred while operating the provided loaner vehicle
- Provide you with a total credit of $5,000 toward payments of your loan/lease or purchase price if the vehicle was paid in full
- Provide additional time for complimentary charging at all EVgo-owned and operated public stations nationwide, through December 31, 2024
- Provide an extension to your vehicle’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty based on the period of time that your vehicle is not able to be driven due to the recall (from the recall announcement date of June 23, 2022 through a date in the future when the remedy is announced.
- Alternatively, if you do not wish to proceed as described above, Toyota will offer to repurchase your vehicle. The terms for the repurchase may vary, depending on your state and particular circumstances.
Now it must be said, mistakes happen in the auto business. Recalls aren’t new, and certainly aren’t exclusive to Toyota. What is fairly unique in this instance, however, are the lengths Toyota in the USA are going to in an attempt to treat their bZ4X owners fairly. It deserves kudos for that, no doubt.
But still, there must be thousands of Tesla owners giggling themselves silly about what’s unfolding here. The giant of the auto industry has boldly strolled into the EV space, and promptly scored an almighty own goal.
Remember, these people have hardened years of taunts (some of which are certainly justified) about Tesla’s build quality, broken promises, and how any real car maker could crush Musk’s baby at will.
If we’ve learned nothing else, it’s that it won’t be that easy. Because if Toyota can’t stop Tesla, who can?