21 March 2024

Toyota’s first fully electric car now selling in Griffith as dealership celebrates half century

| Oliver Jacques
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Mark Owen charging car

Mark Owen charging his bZ4X. Photo: Supplied.

Toyota’s first all-electric car is finally being sold at Griffith, at a local dealership celebrating its 50th year in business.

The bZ4X was launched at Owen Toyota in early March.

The “bZ” part means beyond zero (emissions) and “4X” is the model size, which is similar to the RAV4.

The entry level car can be bought for $70,000, while an all-wheel drive model is $80,000.

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Popular car-themed TV show Top Gear describes the vehicle as “well-built, capable off-road and competent in every area”.

Dealership owner Mark Owen says it’s the first of many battery electric vehicles to be introduced in years to come.

“If you feel that you are ready to move to a battery electric vehicle (BEV) than you can trust in the Toyota brand; [we give you] the assurance of performance, durability and back-up service,” Mr Owen said.

An electric charger is installed at the dealership and is expected to be fully operational from today (22 March).

Car enthusiasts were wondering why the 86-year-old global brand had taken so long to develop its first fully electric vehicle.

“The chief officer of Toyota said they wanted to wait and perfect their product before releasing it to the mass market,” marketing manager Sarah Taranto said.

Owen Toyota, which was started by Mark’s father Lester on Wakaden Street in 1974, celebrates 50 years of operation this year. Mark can remember when his business became a trailblazer for hybrid cars.

Old photo of Owen Toyota

The Owen Toyota dealership in the early 1980s. Photo: Deb Jansen/Old Griffith NSW Album Facebook page.

“Back in the late 1980s Toyota were focused on multivalve engine technology to provide more efficient and cleaner burning engines, and by the late 1990s Toyota released the world’s first mass-produced petrol-electric vehicle, called the Prius,” he said.

The 52-year-old is keen to dispel a few myths about hybrid cars, which now account for around a third of all sales.

There’s no need to plug-in a Toyota hybrid, but as this is our first battery electric vehicle (BEV) I can now show where and how to do this, and there’s even an adaptor cord that you can use to charge your vehicle at home. If you choose to use our dealership’s charging station then you’ll receive a faster top-up, where you can utilise our customer lounge facilities at the same time,” Mr Owen said.

The bZ4X will also come with a portable charger that can be plugged into an ordinary wall power point to charge the vehicle.

bZ4X at Owen Toyota

The bZ4X is for sale. Photo: Supplied.

Owen Toyota will properly celebrate its half century in Griffith later this year.

The company is sometimes referred to as “Love Island” around town, having spawned more lasting relationships than TV show Married at First Sight. Six couples have met among Owen Toyota staff, resulting in four marriages and one engagement.

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