Toyota battles lack of demand for its new electric vehicle in Japan

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Toyota has halved rental fees and applied a discount of around 10% on the Japan-exclusive Toyota BZ4X.

Despite Japan’s long history in the automotive industry, the country has been reluctant to embrace electric vehicles, especially compared to other developed economies. Based on comments given to Reutersthis hesitation led to Toyota’s recent decision not to offer the Toyota BZ4X in its home country.

When released in May this year, the Toyota BZ4X was only available for rental in Japan. According to Shinya Kotera, president of Toyota’s leasing arm, KINTO, the current leasing structure and discount was put in place to entice Japanese buyers to (re)consider the Toyota BZ4X.

The discount halves the rental fee to 385,000 yen ($2,636) and lowers the monthly rental fee of 107,800 yen ($738) by 1,100 yen ($7.53), or about 10% of the fee current monthly.

It’s important to note that while Toyota executives may be the least likely to acknowledge this fact, Toyota’s issues with BZ4X recalls certainly aren’t contributing to demand. The vehicle was globally recalled for a serious safety issue, and one would be surprised if that didn’t affect the current market demand for the new Toyota EV.

“I don’t think we’re in the kind of environment where customers who buy the bZ4X would jump at the chance to buy it, so we have to take our time to make the effort,” Kotera said. Reuters.

Mr Kotera points out that the leasing system was put in place to ease customer concerns, removing worries about battery degradation and resale value. However, despite these efforts, Toyota still doubts that it will be able to reach its rental target of 5,000 BZ4Xs.

The other obstacle facing electric vehicles in Japan, as the president of KINTO pointed out, is the lack of charging infrastructure. Earlier this week, Tesla announced that it had placed its 50th Supercharger in the country. At the same time, the country’s other charging networks remain smaller and less developed than those in neighboring China. For consumers, this means that buying an electric vehicle is far from a simple decision.

What remains unclear is whether Toyota’s difficulty in selling its new electric vehicle applies to other manufacturers in the country or whether Toyota is just feeling the lack of demand. But while many other Asian markets are rapidly adopting electric vehicles as part of transportation, there is no doubt that the Japanese public will eventually follow.

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Toyota battles lack of demand for its new electric vehicle in Japan






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