Toyota restarts bZ4x EV production after fixing dangerous wheel flaw

Sales of Toyota's first EV have been on hold for three months.


Toyota is finally back on track with production of the bZ4x, its first EV. Reuters reports the company has restarted manufacturing of the electric crossover after fixing a defect that could see wheels come loose during hard braking or sharp turns. The company also said it fixed a previously unannounced flaw with poorly installed airbags that could fail or cause injuries.

The automaker said it tackled the wheel issue by replacing the hub bolts and ensuring the new parts were tightened properly. There was no mention of when sales would resume in the US, although Japanese customers can once again lease the bZ4x (their only option for driving the car) starting October 26th. Subaru also hasn't said how it will address American sales of its equivalent model, the Solterra, although it hadn't reached US buyers before the defect emerged.

The short-term financial damage of the fix was relatively limited. Toyota recalled just 2,700 vehicles worldwide, most of them in Europe. Even the buybacks and credits would be modest for a company that sold nearly 28,000 Camrys in the US alone last month. Only 232 bZ4x examples have sold in the US this year.

The bigger concern is the effect on Toyota's reputation. The company has long been accused of being slow to embrace EVs, and only expects them to represent a third of yearly sales by 2030 where many rivals anticipate more. The recall only worsened the situation by taking the recently-launched machine off the market for more than three months. Toyota still has to prove that it can make a successful EV, and the wheel flaw certainly hasn't helped.