Toyota has sent a letter to bZ4X owners, offering the choice of a loan and incentive package or a full vehicle buyout, as the company continues to struggle to (literally) keep the wheels on its first electric car effort .
Notably, the car’s electric drive systems are unaffected by the recall – the battery and drive motor are working perfectly fine.
Toyota announced the recall of the bZ4X at the end of June, citing a risk of falling off the wheels of the new electric vehicle. Although this applies to all bZ4X produced, since it happened shortly after the car was launched, it is still a relatively small recall – only 2,700 vehicles.
Now owners are getting letters from the Toyota company detailing the details of what Toyota is offering in exchange for the problems of this recall, and given the scope of the offer, it doesn’t look like the recall is going well.
The text of the letter is below:
We recently notified you of a safety recall involving your 2023 Toyota bZ4X and continue to request that you do not allow the vehicle to be driven until a remedy is available. We are working diligently on a cure and will let you know in the future when it becomes available.
At Toyota, your safety is a top priority. If you have not already done so, please contact an authorized Toyota dealer and they will arrange for the collection and storage of your vehicle, free of charge, until the solution is available. We will also provide you with a loaner vehicle at no cost to you.
We place a high value on the customer experience and recognize the disadvantages presented by this situation. Therefore, Toyota is offering affected owners the following until the remedy is available:
• Continue to provide a loaner vehicle and store your vehicle, free of charge
• Reimburse your fuel costs incurred while using the loaner vehicle provided
• Provide you with a total credit of $5,000 for your loan/lease payments or the purchase price if the vehicle has been paid in full
• Offer additional time for free charging at all public stations owned and operated by EVgo nationwide, until December 31, 2024
• Provide an extension of your vehicle’s new-vehicle limited warranty based on the period your vehicle will be undrivable due to the recall (from the recall announcement date of June 23, 2022 through a later date when the remedy is announced.
Alternatively, if you do not wish to proceed as described above, Toyota will offer to buy back your vehicle. Redemption terms may vary depending on your state and specific circumstances.
A bZ4X specialist will contact you in the next few days to discuss these options. If you would like to speak to someone sooner, please contact us at 1-800-331-4331 and select option three, between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Saturday ET.
We sincerely regret any inconvenience this condition may have caused you.
– Toyota Engine Sales, USA
The highlights we see here are that owners should not drive these vehicles and should return them to Toyota as soon as possible if they haven’t already, that Toyota has not yet found a solution to the problem and has no timeline for when it will, and that Toyota is offering owners an option between several incentives (loan with fuel reimbursement, $5,000 credit, free recharge and extended warranty) or full vehicle buyback.
Many assumed that Toyota would find a solution relatively easily, given its long history of producing around 10 million vehicles a year with wheels that don’t fall off.
There are also reports online of some owners trying to negotiate with Toyota for additional consideration, such as trying to recoup some of the dealer markup they had to pay when buying the car.
This recall and buyout offer comes at a time when new car owners don’t have many replacement options. Demand for electric vehicles is high and supply is low, leading to low inventory and high profit margins everywhere. Used and new gas-powered cars are also showing higher prices as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect global vehicle supply.
So even for bZ4X owners who are discouraged by this recall saga, they might stick with the loaner offer, at least in part due to the lack of availability of other replacement options.
And for those who have the car on order, they’re stuck in limbo wondering if they should cancel their order and try to find another car in a tight market or stick to it and hope for a quick fix so they don’t having to dive back into the pool of EV order periods that can span a year for other models.
I drove the bZ4X, but only a short drive around a few blocks. There was nothing particularly wrong with that, but it was a bit irrelevant to this longtime EV driver. It felt like an initial effort from the company – still with many of the benefits of an electric vehicle that makes it better than a petrol car, but without some of the refinements you might see from a more mature second or third effort. generation.
But Toyota owners don’t necessarily want something inspiring. They just want a good reliable car that will get them from point A to point B at a reasonable price… without the wheels falling off.
In the last decade and a half of electric vehicle ownership, one thing I’ve heard often goes along the lines of “yeah, when the big automakers decide to go electric, they’ll easily crush start-ups with their superior quality and manufacturing prowess I have heard this over and over again, regardless of the current state of the industry at the time.
And here we have Toyota, the world’s largest automaker with one of the highest reputations for quality – the company that introduced the kaizen manufacturing philosophy to the world and influenced manufacturers in every industry – and they l completely messed up.
That said, thankfully, the problem here has nothing to do with the EV powertrain, which speaks to the simplicity of EV powertrains in general, as electric motors are much less complex than gasoline engines. But that only makes the situation more mind-boggling – why would Toyota, which has so much manufacturing expertise, have trouble with something as basic as wheels? And how is it taking them so long to fix it?
After so many years of acting like they know better than the rest of the industry about electric vehicles (while taking plenty of action against them), this is a major misstep by Toyota, and it only getting worse day by day. We’ve said many times that Toyota needs to get its act together on electric vehicles, and it remains true – both for them and for Japan.
It wouldn’t be so bad if it was 2,700 random vehicles, but that’s everything from Toyota first electric carand even without powertrain issues, it’s a blow to their EV program, which will only leave them further in a race where they’re already behind everyone else.
The remedy offered here seems reasonable enough. They’re doing well with those customers, at least with what they’ve got.
But what these customers probably want most is the car they bought, and the cure doesn’t give them that yet, or a timeline for when that will happen. That doesn’t even give them an electric car, because Toyota doesn’t have any other electric cars they can give away (the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid is their closest analogue).
Are you a bZ4X owner or an order holder? What do you think of this recall offer? Do you want to borrow or buy back? If you are an order holder, has this reminder influenced your thinking about whether or not to go through with it? Let us know in the comments.
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