Subaru Is Teaming Up With Toyota On 3 More Electric SUVs

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Subaru has been rather slow to the electric vehicle party, with only one model under its belt so far. As we’ve noted before, that’s pretty odd given that electrification certainly fits with the company’s nature-loving image and crunchy clientele. Subaru’s EV efforts are set to ramp up considerably with the help of longtime partner Toyota. 

Subaru plans to release three new electric SUVs jointly developed with Toyota by 2026, Automotive News reports. Subaru executives detailed the plans during an earnings presentation on Monday. 

Why team up? Subaru CEO Atsushi Osaki said it’s risky for the small automaker to wade into the uncertain EV landscape alone. 

“At the moment, it is quite difficult to predict how things will go from here with EVs,” Osaki said, per Automotive News. “We have held talks with Toyota and have agreed that it is better to reduce risks through joint development.”

That makes a lot of sense. Subaru is a whole lot smaller than players like Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors. The research and development costs that go into creating an EV from scratch are huge, as are the investments required to reconfigure plants that previously made internal combustion vehicles. Subaru doesn’t have as much money to throw around as some of the bigger automotive players, so it’s leaning on Toyota to spread out some of the costs. 

(Its strategy seems to be working out just fine in the short term. On Monday, Osaki touted a 75% increase in operating profit for Subaru’s fiscal year.)

That may also be why Mazda, another small automaker, isn’t exactly diving into the EV market either. But it’s also worth noting that the whole Japanese auto industry has lagged behind in EVs. Toyota especially has pushed the idea that hybrids and hydrogen-powered vehicles will be more significant than most people think. Still, both it and Honda are pushing ahead with big plans for ground-up electric cars. 

The Solterra, Subaru’s sole electric offering. 

The current rough patch in EV sales has provided some vindication for Toyota’s trepidatious strategy. But the overall trends point to EVs making up much more of the global car market than they do today. 

At least one of the upcoming Subaru EVs will be produced by Toyota in the U.S., potentially qualifying it for federal purchase incentives. By 2028, Subaru plans to launch four in-house EVs, it said on Monday. It’s also preparing hybrid versions of the Crosstrek as well as its top seller in the U.S., the Forester. 

Subaru’s only EV today is the Solterra, a small SUV that’s a close sibling to the Toyota BZ4X. Both have been criticized for their substandard charging speeds and range. I think I speak for Toyota and Subaru fans everywhere when I say this: Let’s hope these brands’ next EVs bring a bit more to the table. 

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