Toyota has announced it has resumed taking leasing orders in Japan for its bZ4X EV, now that production of the crossover has restarted. Build was halted following a safety recall for the vehicle in June, in which 2,700 bZ4X models were recalled due to a risk of wheels coming loose. Production resumed earlier this month.
The company has also halved a one-time fee to attract interest in the car, which is only available through lease in its home market via the Kinto car subscription service. The move to not sell the vehicle outright but offer it through leasing was very much aimed at working around customer concerns regarding battery-electric vehicle (BEV) ownership.
Japanese consumers have been slow to embrace EVs due to high prices as well as a lack of charging stations in the country. Additionally, many motorists prefer not to have to worry about battery life and resale value.
When the leasing for the bZ4X was introduced in May, the company charged a one-time application fee of 770,000 yen (RM24,700) on top of a 107,800 yen (RM3,460) monthly lease for the first four years of a 10-year contract. From today, October 26, the application fee has been reduced to 385,000 yen (RM12,350), while the monthly cost is 1,100 yen (RM36) cheaper, Reuters reports.
According to Kinto president Shinya Kotera, subscribers who signed up beforehand are eligible for a discount. “In retrospect, we felt the price was a little too high and customers also pointed this out,” he told the news agency in an interview. While the discount is unlikely to generate a significant surge in leasing orders, the company said it will still be able to turn a profit.
Toyota initially aimed to lease 5,000 bZ4X crossovers in the current financial year, but Kotera said that would be difficult to achieve following the recall and because of the cautious approach to EVs in a country that is still lacking a developed charging infrastructure.
“I don’t think we are in the kind of environment where customers who would buy the bZ4X would jump at the chance to buy it, so we have to take our time in making the effort,” he said.