Subaru planning new electric and hybrid models for the U.S. market
For the past two years, Subaru has been publicly reorganizing its corporate operations to prepare for decades of electrification. The automaker said it wanted 40% of its global sales to be electrified vehicles by 2030, built a new R&D center at its main factory in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, and created an engineering manufacturing division just for EVs. Even with that, at the end of 2021, company CEO Tomomi Nakamura said, “Based on how the market receives the new Solterra EV, we can plan for what kind of ratios (50-60 percent) we should target for EVs and hybrids.” The reception appears to be positive. Automotive News reports that Subaru’s SVP of corporate planning, Tomoaki Emori, told analysts during the latest earnings call that the latest electrification plan will get “strong hybrids and electric vehicles” to the U.S. market by 2025. He added that for the U.S. especially, “We will need to offer several models in our EV lineup” and, “We have shifted our weight toward that in our development.”
We don’t know what that means in the EV space beyond the Solterra. Near-term products, the kind that could be on the market by 2025, will be joint projects between Subaru and Toyota; the Solterra is Subaru’s version of the Toyota bX4X and is built at a Toyota factory. It’s thought to be another three or four years before Subaru can build its own EVs at its Gunma plant.
Hybrids will also be collaborations, the first fruits anticipated with the sixth-gen Subaru Forester that might be just a year away. Subaru said it would take advantage of Toyota hybrid tech in the “mid 2020s,” and a Japanese rumor from late 2021 said the new wagon might nab the plug-in hybrid powertrain from the Toyota RAV4 Prime. Doing so would be a noteworthy advance on Subaru’s recent hybrid efforts here — the 2023 Crosstrek Hybrid is the last of that breed and dying out in the few states that sell it. Subaru said at the Chicago Auto Show that the new 2024 Crosstrek won’t get a PHEV version — blame the Solterra’s arrival and shifting state regulations.
Other products will pick up the PHEV torch after the Forester, but we don’t know which ones and in what order. We should find out more when Subaru updates its electrification map sometime this summer.