TOKYO– Toyota is recalling 2,700 bZ4X crossover vehicles worldwide for wheel bolts that could loosen, in a major setback to the Japanese automaker’s ambitions to roll out electric cars.
Toyota Motor Corp. said on Friday the cause was still under investigation, but the entire wheel could come off, risking an accident.
“Until the cure is available, no one should drive these vehicles,” the company said in a statement.
Of the vehicles subject to the latest recall, about 2,200 were destined for Europe, 270 for North America, 112 for Japan and 60 for the rest of Asia, according to Toyota. They were produced between March and June.
The bZ4X, which went on sale around two months ago, is a key model in Toyota’s plans to bolster its electric lineup.
Toyota plans to have 30 electric vehicle models by 2030, selling 3.5 million electric vehicles worldwide that year. Toyota is also investing 2 trillion yen ($17.6 billion) in battery research and development to achieve these goals.
The “bz” in the name of the recalled model, along with others in the works, represents a “beyond zero” series, including sport utility vehicles of all sizes, pickup trucks and sports cars, according to Toyota.
The maker of hybrid Prius and luxury Lexus models has been seen by some critics as a laggard in promoting electric vehicles, in part because it has been so bullish and successful in other green technologies, such as hybrids and fuel cells, as well as efficient gasoline engines.
Demand for electric cars is expected to continue to grow, especially with the recent spike in gasoline prices, amid concerns over inflation and war in Ukraine, and people around the world are becoming more aware of climate change and of the environment.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama