Home » I Found Three Toyota bZ4X EVs At One Charger And Learned Why NYC Suddenly Has So Many Of Them

I Found Three Toyota bZ4X EVs At One Charger And Learned Why NYC Suddenly Has So Many Of Them

Bz4x Times Three Ts2
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I do not have a Monk-like attention to detail and, honestly, if Godzilla himself were ripping the roof off an office building a block away I’d probably miss it. This might be because I reserve all my attention for cars, meaning that I’ll notice a Ford Escort ZX2 with the S/R package driving the other direction six miles away. Perhaps this is why the appearance of three Toyota bZ4X electric crossovers at one charging network caught me off guard.

How could this be? The bZ4X is extremely mid, named like a late-gen Sony Walkman, and had its presumption of reliability immediately shot in the foot when the wheels started falling off the first examples. While sales and inventory are up for the bZ4X this year, that’s only relative to poor sales last year and after a lot of heavy discounting.

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It was therefore a neck-snapping moment this week when I saw three bZ4Xes utilizing half the stalls at an EVgo charging location just outside of New York City. I have never seen two bZ4Xes outside of a Toyota dealer, so three getting a charge was as rare as seeing an albino squirrel or witnessing Astros relief pitching not blowing a lead.

Parking Bz4x 1 1

Being a reporter and a curious person I had to go find the owners and figure out what was going on. I’ve been especially curious as I’ve seen a sudden uptick in bZ4Xes running around New York lately.

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It’s Probably Not What You Think It Is

My first instinct was that the insane lease deals on the Toyota might have been the cause, and I’m sure that has something to do with why I’m seeing more on the road. If I had the ability to charge a car at my place I’d be tempted by a $ 190-a-month lease and year of free charging, too.

But as I got closer I noticed something all the cars had in common. Every one of them had a license plate starting with T followed by a bunch of numbers and a C. In New York, this means that the vehicle has one of the coveted For-Hire Vehicle Licenses. While you can be an Uber driver in just about anything in the burbs, if you wanna offer rides in the city you need to have a plate and a license from the Taxi & Limousine Commission.

It was clear right away these were Ubers, but to be sure I asked the two gentleman standing next to the cars.

“Ubers or Lyfts?”

“Ubers.”

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“Ah…”

Again, my presumption here was that these two drivers got their cars recently, while the lease deals were great (most EVs used by Uber drivers I’ve talked to were leased). When I suggested this possibility they gave an unhappy shrug and explained that, yes, leases are cheaper now but they got these cars before the prices went down.

So why do it?

“It takes two weeks to get a taxi plate and it’s too hard to get a Tesla. The Toyota was easy.”

Parking Bz4x 4 1While I still see a ton of Teslas used as Ubers, the picture starts to become clearer the more I talk to them. Any EV is better than no EV if you want a license, and so whatever is available at the moment is often the best car.

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In New York City, you can only get a new For-Hire Vehicle License if you’re an EV or a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. There was a brief pause where no one could get one due to a lawsuit, but that lawsuit was thrown out earlier this year so licenses started getting issued again.

In order to get a license, according to the T&LC, you have to have a VIN and prove you have an electric car, which means buying the car first. It would suck to buy a car and then have to wait for delivery as that’s money lost, so the two drivers I spoke to just got the first thing that was nice and available (they said Teslas were too inconsistent with delivery and they didn’t want to risk it). Plus, Toyota still has a great reputation among drivers and, in my experience, has the biggest share of the market in the city.

The drivers liked their cars and thought they were comfortable, but there was big problem.

The One Big Problem With The bZ4x As An Uber

Parking Bz4x 2 1

Talking to the drivers I was surprised to find out that range wasn’t that big of an issue. Most of their driving is in the city and they aren’t covering huge miles, so the low 200-mile range they experienced was sufficient for their needs (I think these were all AWD models and therefore have 228 miles of range).

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The issue is that DC Level 3 charging on these cars is kinda slow. From Toyota:

DC Fast Charging in ideal conditions: In AWD models, going from Low Light to 80% can take ~1 hour, which results in an average charging rate of ~3 miles/minute. In FWD models, going from Low Light to 80% in ideal conditions can take ~30 minutes, which results in an average charging rate of ~6 miles/minute.

That’s an hour to get to 80% under “ideal conditions,” but others, like Cars.com, have found it difficult to achieve those numbers:

Our fast-charging test of a FWD bZ4X XLE took considerably longer at 54 minutes to charge the battery from 25%-80%, which added 141 miles of predicted range at a rate of 2.6 miles of range added per minute. The 2.6 miles of range per minute was far less than Toyota’s best-case estimate of 6 miles of range per minute (higher is better when comparing miles of range added per minute).

The Uber drivers I spoke with said it was more like two hours to go to full which, for obvious economic reasons, Uber drivers tend to do.

Parking Bz4x 3 1When I end up at a public charger and see an Uber driver and look at the screen on the charger I’m never surprised when I see them at 98% or 99%.

This isn’t recommended by Toyota:

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To help maintain long-term battery health, DC Fast Charging should be limited to two cycles of charging Low Light to 80%) per day throughout the year.

Since these are leased cars, the long-term battery wasn’t likely of much concern to the drivers.

I don’t blame them for fully charging as, in the same situation, that’s what I’d do. Still, this sucks for anyone who is waiting. Most people I meet at chargers usually only fill up to 80%, which means your max waiting time is usually around half an hour if you’re behind them in line. If you’re waiting for these guys? It’ll probably be a while.

The good news for the future is that there were plenty of Tesla Superchargers in the same garage and there was zero wait.

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Drvn 2 Wn
Drvn 2 Wn
16 days ago

I ended up getting the last ’23 Solterra remaining on a dealer’s lot a few months ago. I’ve got to say that I love it. For someone that the numbers work for, it’s a great car. May not be a great EV, but it’s a fantastic car. I have a short commute, two kids in car seats, and it does everything I need well. The looks have grown on me – in pictures I never thought they looked good. I also thought they were much larger than they are. In person, I find it to be an interesting car – it also gets waaay more attention from strangers than my prior car, which surprises me.

I came out of a 2010 BMW M3 Sedan. While I miss the scream of the S65, the EV’s instant torque (even at relatively modest levels in the AWD beezterra) makes it plenty fun for daily driving, without going at “straight to jail” speeds.

For context, I did lease the car after the ’24s were already on the lot, so the pass-through EV credit took $7.5k off the sticker and the dealer took another $7.5k off to match the credit. This netted $15k off, which made it a much more competitive car for the price. My daily mileage rarely exceeds 50 miles, with typical being 10-15. I also have access to free charging at work and have a L2 charger in my garage at home for “emergency” use.

Ben
Ben
25 days ago

The Uber drivers I spoke with said it was more like two hours to go to full which, for obvious economic reasons, Uber drivers tend to do.

If that’s really the reason, then this is further evidence for my theory that the only people who drive for Uber are ones who are bad at math. If you’re spending an extra hour at the charger to fill up that last 20% instead of splitting it into two charging breaks where that second hour could you get you a 60% charge then you’re wasting your time. I get wanting to start a shift at 100% when you can charge “off the clock” and put off having to charge again as long as possible, but if you’re in a hurry it’s almost never worth your time to top off the battery.

MDMK
MDMK
25 days ago

If an Uber driver covers much of their daily mileage on a single charge, there’s really little need for them to waste time getting that last 20% into the battery. Also, I’d imagine NYC traffic allows these Toyotas to easily exceed their EPA ranges or at least mitigate range loss from heavy A/C and cabin heater.

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
26 days ago

I’ve seen a couple Solterra’s in the wild here in the Charlotte area, which doesn’t have that Uber requirement so gotta be a cheap lease deal thing. It’s like if you like the Rav4 Prime, here’s something similarly styled but with much worse plastic cladding all over, and in general just worse. The BZ thing is stupid, should’ve just called it a REV4.

Eddie Wuncler
Eddie Wuncler
27 days ago

It was roughly 50 sitings and a few months before I finally saw a 5th Gen Prius in NYC without a T , and many of them were the primes. Like two months ago the buzz forks showed up here and now I see like 10 a day. Ive yet to see one without a T plate

D-dub
D-dub
27 days ago
Reply to  Eddie Wuncler

I prefer Bee’s Axe, or if you have an XLE trim Bee’s Axle.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
25 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

Busy Forks

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
27 days ago

Are those 2023 or 2024 model year cars? Toyota/Subaru upgraded the DC fast charging capability for the ‘24 model year (better battery conditioning with a new heat exchanger) and they claim that the ‘24 models will DC fast charge more quickly. Subaru says the ‘24 model can go from 10% to 80% in as little as 35 minutes.
https://media.subaru.com/pressrelease/2136/1/2024-subaru-solterra-updated-faster-charging-new-features

Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
26 days ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

I’m personally more concerned with the cold weather charging. In finnish car magazine TM:s extensive yearly *mega-group-winter-tests they were really bad. I mean they hardly peaked over 40kw. I came last in the 10-12 car test.

*mega as in very very comprehensive. And they use actual science to measure stuff, not just pants feel. They’ve done these winter tests for cars since the 60’s and the setup is rather nice. Wonder why any big foreing magazines aren’t interested in buying the results.

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
26 days ago

Did they test a 2023 or 2024 model year car? We know that DC fast charging on the 2023 model is rather slow. The additional heat exchanger and improved battery conditioning strategy on the 2024 model helps to warm the battery when necessary in order to increase the speed of DC fast charging in cold weather.

Last edited 26 days ago by Widgetsltd
Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
26 days ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

It might have been the 23 as it was first model year car. I haven’t really followed up if there has been any reports of improvement.

Drvn 2 Wn
Drvn 2 Wn
16 days ago

One thing to keep in mind is that the euro market cars have different batteries than the US market cars, so comparing across the pond results with the ones here have little value.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
27 days ago

Never seen one outside the interwebz

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
27 days ago

I rarely see these in Maine, but when I do, I call them “Busy Forks” and “Salt-error” for the Subaru model. Makes spotting a dumb unicorn of an EV more fun.

Tangent
Tangent
27 days ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

Busy Forks is a good name; I’ve just been calling them the Beezax.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
25 days ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

The Subaru is the SoTerrible among my acquaintances who work for Subaru.

The named it after the sun (Sol) and earth (Terra) but somehow made something worthy of neither.

Parsko
Parsko
25 days ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

“Busy Forks” for me too.

IanGTCS
IanGTCS
27 days ago

I haven’t seen one of these or it’s Subaru twin out in the wild. And my area isn’t short of electric cars either, my street alone has a couple of mach-es and polestars. Heck, I even see vinfasts driving around.

Wait, are these even available in Canada?

DolanDuk
DolanDuk
27 days ago
Reply to  IanGTCS

I see these all over Montreal, I even test drove the Solterra for the heck of it when my car was in service. It was fine, but I street-park and have nowhere to charge a car so BEV is a no-go.

IanGTCS
IanGTCS
27 days ago
Reply to  DolanDuk

Quebec makes sense with your super cheap hydro. What kind of government incentives does the province kick in?

DolanDuk
DolanDuk
26 days ago
Reply to  IanGTCS

Looking at my local Subaru dealer, the dealer is giving $3k off, then there are $12000 worth of government rebates which is pretty crazy.

Quebec Roulez Vert Program -$7,000.00
Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) Program -$5,000.00
Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
28 days ago

I didn’t even know these Toyotas existed.

Arthur Flax
Arthur Flax
27 days ago

To be fair, bZ4X XLE is the worst name for a car since the Utopian Turtletop…I mean the Edsel.

I hadn’t heard of these Toyotas either.

Last edited 27 days ago by Arthur Flax
AlterId
AlterId
28 days ago

I would have had to scoot 180 miles up to the DC suburbs to get any bZ4X and I only saw one or two FWD models, but if I had had a job, I would have snapped one up last month (or April. whenever it was that I saw the deal out there), but $189/month for a 2023 or $219/month for a 2024 with nothing down was an absolute steal, and the abbreviated range and sluggish charging would be just fine for my 6,000 miles per year max.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
28 days ago
Reply to  AlterId

If you’ve managed to find a job, check out the deal for IN, IL, WI, and MN. $169/mo and it explicitly said must be purchased here but residency doesn’t matter. No idea what that means with taxes / registration though so make sure to look that up.

AlterId
AlterId
28 days ago

Cool – thanks!

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
28 days ago

BUSY FORKS! BUSY FORKS! Ha ha!

Eddie Wuncler
Eddie Wuncler
27 days ago
Reply to  Freelivin2713

*buzz forks. It sounds like it belongs as a ratchet and clank weapon

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
28 days ago

Head over to prospect park for your albino squirrel viewing , Brooklyn is a leader in charismatic white squirrels.
https://www.google.com/search?q=albino+squirrel+prospect.park

Christo Arvanitis
Christo Arvanitis
27 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

ANd Brevard, NC is filled with white squirrels… not albino though. https://www.cityofbrevard.com/481/White-Squirrels

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
27 days ago

Wow, descendants of escaped circus squirrels! I don’t expect to be visiting Brevard, NC any time soon, but if I do I’ll look them up.

Christo Arvanitis
Christo Arvanitis
27 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

It’s a great little town with lots of cool restaurants and shops. We go there for mountain biking. Fun area.

Waremon0
Waremon0
28 days ago

Wait. Does it make sense to charge to 100%? How much slower is the last 20%? This article makes it seem like 25%-80% takes the same amount of time as 80%-100%. Unless you’re risking having to wait at a charge station to even begin charging, I would charge as fast as possible to 80% then drive until low and take more frequent but shorter breaks.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
28 days ago
Reply to  Waremon0

I was thinking the same thing.

Duke Woolworth
Duke Woolworth
27 days ago
Reply to  Waremon0

The last 20% is v-e-r-y slow. This is universal for EV’s.

D-dub
D-dub
27 days ago
Reply to  Waremon0

Maybe there are certain times of the day that have lulls, and you take those windows to get all the charge you can?

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
25 days ago
Reply to  Waremon0

I play with electric RC stuff that uses some okay size packs. This is true that the last 20% takes as long as the first 80%. The battery management system also has to balance the cells along the way. That allows the pack to have a nice long life since all the cells are charged equally.

For heat helping cells to charge/discharge quickly, my RC monster truck performs better after running it for a few minutes. That gives the pack time to warm up and move the electrons across the membrane separating the cathode and anode. Run time in the cold stinks since the pack can’t warm up despite having it in a warm house before.

Citrus
Citrus
28 days ago

Having had both one of these and a Model 3 as an Uber, I didn’t find these especially comfortable – Toyota and my body don’t like each other, I felt like a giant about to burst out of the car – but it’s definitely more comfortable than a Model 3.

Note, a Hyundai Accent – which is highly inappropriate as an Uber, even if it still did wind up working – is more comfortable than both.

At the end of the day my best Uber experiences are Hondas and I really hope they get more EV options to target that market.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
28 days ago

Holy crap, $169/mo in the Chicago are for a 3 year lease with 2100 down? And after the end of the lease you can buy it for $19K? So you can end up buying one of these for 28K!?

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
28 days ago

I haven’t checked the deal they offer but they always have one parked in front of Costco

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
25 days ago

At some point you have to ask if they’re really that bad, and the answer – according to friends who work at Subaru & Toyota dealerships – is resounding “yes”. They can’t “give” them away, even with the updates to the newest model.

Parsko
Parsko
25 days ago
Reply to  Box Rocket

Why are these so bad again???

Ben
Ben
25 days ago
Reply to  Parsko

Limited range and slow charging. It’s a compliance car so Toyota can say “see, we’re making EVs too” when they really care about their hybrid, PHEV, and, unfortunately, hydrogen vehicles. For most people this is more comparable to a Leaf than a Model 3/Y in that they’re lousy road trip cars and are pretty much limited to local trips.

Also, the whole wheels falling off thing. 😉

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
28 days ago

But the media is telling me that Tesla’s aren’t selling anymore... But these guys can’t get one?

In my own echo chambers circles, it appears that the 1% financing on the Model Y did the trick and got cars moving again.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
27 days ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Things have changed a lot in the past year. I ordered my Model 3 on a Friday evening and immediately got the VIN. I took delivery four days later. I could have picked it up earlier but I needed to arrange travel to a delivery center. Delivery took maybe 5-10 minutes. They even have a contactless delivery option where you use the app to pick up the car in a lot without ever needing to talk to a person.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
28 days ago

I’m seeing more of these in western NY too. Must be those lease deals. I had a ride in the one the local Toyota dealer was using for a shuttle. Completely unremarkable. Except for the instrument cluster being weirdly far away from the driver and super low resolution. No sun glare or washout, however.

WasGTIthenGTOthenNOVAthenGTIthenA4nowS5
WasGTIthenGTOthenNOVAthenGTIthenA4nowS5
28 days ago

Is there no mileage limits to an EV lease? Seems like you’d blow past even 45,000 miles on a 36 month lease if you were driving it for Uber every day. Maybe not in NYC maybe?

Drew
Drew
28 days ago

I think Uber has deals with a bunch of places to offer leases and rentals that work for their drivers. I don’t know how it works out, but I assume they come with unlimited or high mileage packages.

HowintheNameofZeus
HowintheNameofZeus
28 days ago

as rare as seeing an albino squirrel or witnessing Astros relief pitching not blowing a lead.

Oh no! Maybe the other teams know what pitches are coming. That’d be a shame.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
27 days ago

COTD…lol

Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
28 days ago

Glad to see a manufacturer putting the 80% max charge in writing. I’m sure forum users will still squabble about the best thing to do for battery health.

Black-Villain
Black-Villain
28 days ago
Reply to  Jdoubledub

Almost every EV manufacturer lists the maximum recommended daily charge percentage, usually it’s on your charge limit screen on the infotainment… I can’t think of one that doesn’t recommend it, outside of some LFP cars

Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
25 days ago
Reply to  Black-Villain

Then I guess my Zero motorcycle is an exception.

Drvn 2 Wn
Drvn 2 Wn
16 days ago
Reply to  Jdoubledub

This is only for DC fast charging. For a L2 charge, they (both Toyota and Subaru) recommend using the car similar to a cell phone, drive during the day, charge to full overnight.

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