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Toyota bZ4X production resumes after wheel hub issue fixed

The wheels are back on and in motion at Toyota.

Toyota has announced it resumed production of its bZ4X all-electric SUV on October 6, after finding a solution to the wheel hub bolt issue that caused a global recall in June this year.

Toyota executive vice president Masahiko Maeda told Reuters bZ4X shipments will gradually resume and the company will prioritise customers waiting for the car.

In a filling lodged with the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on October 6, the fix includes replacing all the wheel hub bolts and ensuring they are properly tightened.

Toyota said it has also identified and fixed a potential problem with the airbags in the bZ4X. Some airbags had been improperly installed at the factory and were at risk of failing because of the placement of a strap inside the airbag assembly.

Toyota hasn’t disclosed this any information about this secondary problem previously.

Mr Maeda told Reuters the company only became aware of the airbag issue in the last month or two.

“We apologise again for the concern, anxiety, and inconvenience we have caused to our customers, our dealers and our stakeholders,” said Mr Maeda to Reuters.

The carmaker recalled 2700 bZ4X models in June due to an issue with the wheel hub bolts, which in the worst case scenario could cause the wheels to fall off.

A recall notice issued by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on June 23 advised “the bolt can loosen due to repeated sharp turns and sudden braking”.

Subaru also recalled 2600 examples of its Solterra, which is jointly developed with Toyota and produced at the same Motomachi plant in Japan, for the same issue.

Although Subaru hasn’t issued a statement in regard to restarting production of the Solterra, it’s expected the fix will carry over regardless of the badge on the nose.

The Ministry warned owners to stop driving their vehicles, and “take permanent measures as soon as the measures are decided”.

There was a similar recall notice lodged by Toyota in the USA on June 23.

In August, Toyota sent out a letter to affected bZ4X owners in the US, offering them a number of options – including a full buyback of the car should they wish to dust their hands of it.

The Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra are the first models to use the new e-TNGA electric vehicle architecture, also marketed by Subaru as the E-Subaru Global Platform.

Though Toyota made electric versions of two generations of RAV4 available for lease in select markets, and introduced an electric C-HR in China in 2020, the bZ4X is its first ground-up electric vehicle.

The company revealed 16 Toyota and Lexus-branded electric vehicles last December, announcing it would offer 30 electric models globally by 2030 in passenger and commercial segments.

Toyota Australia plans to bring small numbers of the bZ4X here in 2023, having originally spoken about a late 2022 launch. The company’s local arm has previously warned the car would “be expensive“.

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