Toyota restarts bZ4x EV production after fixing dangerous wheel flaw

Toyota is finally back on track with the production of the bZ4x, its first electric vehicle. Reuters The company reportedly resumed manufacturing the electric crossover after fixing a defect that could cause wheels to come loose during hard braking or sharp corners. The company also said it fixed a previously unannounced bug with poorly installed airbags that could fail or cause injury.

The automaker said it solved the wheel problem by replacing the hub bolts and making sure the new parts were properly torqued. There was no mention of when US sales would resume, although Japanese customers will again be able to lease the bZ4x (their only option for driving the car) from October 26. Subaru also didn’t say how it will appeal to American sales of its equivalent model, the Solterra, although it hadn’t reached US buyers before the defect surfaced.

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

The bigger concern is the impact on Toyota’s reputation. The company has long been accused of being slow to adopt electric vehicles and expects them to account for just a third of annual sales by 2030, where many rivals expect more. The recall only made matters worse by taking the recently introduced machine off the market for more than three months. Toyota has yet to prove it can build a successful electric vehicle, and the wheel failure certainly didn’t help.

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