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Toyota reveals astounding lineup of future electric cars for 'Beyond Zero' brand and more

Four EVs will join the BZ4X with "BZ" badges, but there are plans for another eight electric cars of all shapes and sizes.

Toyota EV lineup
Things are going to get very busy for Toyota.
Noriaki Mitsubishi/N-Rak Photo Agency/Toyota

Toyota has been criticized for not taking electrification seriously enough in recent years, but on Tuesday, the Japanese automaker put a stop to that notion in a big way. The automaker revealed 12 new electric cars, which CEO Akio Toyoda said preview vehicles coming in the "next few years." 

"The future that we showed you today is by no means far away," Toyoda remarked after revealing the onslaught of new EVs. The company plans to split the strategy for the Toyota brand itself. The BZ4X electric SUV developed with Subaru kicks off the sub-brand "BZ," which stands for "Beyond Zero." This sub-brand will receive four additional EVs to complement the BZ4X.

They include a BZ small crossover, a BZ compact SUV, a BZ sedan and a BZ large SUV. It's clear these vehicles are concepts or design studies for now, with blacked-out windows to hide their lack of real interiors. Toyoda didn't provide too much insight as to where each of these BZ-badged cars will eventually be sold, but he did speak specifically to the BZ small crossover. That's the little red vehicle. Right now, it's something the automaker targets specifically for Europe and Japan. In other words, it doesn't sound like North America will receive the tiny EV.

This is the future Beyond Zero lineup.

Noriaki Mitsubishi/N-Rak Photo Agency/Toyota

The compact SUV, sedan and large SUV seem like easy decisions for this part of the world, however. The compact SUV and sedan take Toyota's most recent Corolla fascia and put a futuristic twist on it with LED lights that swoop up and inward to the hood. The compact SUV concept also takes a different route compared to SUV design as of late. Automakers have gone overboard building upright, boxy vehicles, but this concept feels very much like a hatchback or sedan on stilts. It's actually quite attractive from some angles. 

The sedan, meanwhile, feels like an evolution of today's Corolla. It's hard to tell from the perspective, but it looks larger than a Corolla, perhaps Camry-sized, and features a squared-off, more upright rear end in the couple of photos Toyota supplied.

The BZ large SUV will certainly be an important vehicle for Toyota in North America. This particular concept feels a lot like the BZ4X and Highlander produced an offspring. The face is very BZ4X, but the design keeps it simple and blocky in a more minimalistic way than the somewhat swoopier Highlander. This is all based on just a few photos, keep in mind. We're sure to see more of these vehicles in the coming years as Toyota inches closer to putting them into production.

The second part of Toyota's EV strategy is a "Lifestyle" lineup. The automaker showed another eight electric cars to fill out this line with some exciting potential cars. There are two commercial vehicles, called the Mid Box and Micro Box, and two more SUVs. One appears on the smaller side with the name "Small SUEV" and the other looks closer to the BZ compact SUV concept, though it just wears a "Crossover EV" name.

The Lifestyle lineup looks very fun.

Noriaki Mitsubishi/N-Rak Photo Agency/Toyota

Then we come to more exciting cars. Toyota showed what sure looks like a successor to the beloved FJ Cruiser called the Compact Cruiser EV concept. The boxy off-road SUV wears a familiar shade of blue to the departed Jeep Wrangler rival and even rocks similar design language to the previous SUV. There's also the Pickup EV, which looks a lot like today's Tacoma with minimal changes and -- are you ready for this? -- a sports car.

The sports car looks like a smaller car with a mid-engine (mid-motor?) layout. We've heard a lot about the potential for a reborn MR2 sports car. Maybe Toyota will make it happen with this EV push.

There's no guarantee the automaker will have a production version for every single car shown here, but Toyota made its point well. EVs are very much part of its commitment to zero-emission vehicles, and the automaker said it will have 30 purely electric cars on sale by the end of this decade.

"We will not only add battery EV options to existing vehicle models but will also offer a full lineup of reasonably priced mass-production models, such as the BZ series, to meet the needs of all kinds of customers," Toyoda said.