With Nothing Electric in Its Lineup, Subaru Considers an Easier Solution

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
with nothing electric in its lineup subaru considers an easier solution

With the exception of Mazda and — until its Outlander PHEV finally lands on U.S. shores — Mitsubishi, Subaru remains one of very few automakers to completely eschew electrified powertrains.

Despite lacking any fully electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid model (the unloved Crosstrek Hybrid met a quiet death last year), Subaru’s U.S. customer base continues to expand at a rapid clip, but a gas-only strategy can’t survive forever. Environmental regulations the world over insist Subaru should follow the lead of its rivals and build something without pistons.

Well, Subaru plans to. However, unlike many of its rivals, the automaker has indicated it might take a different path towards this goal.

According to Bloomberg, Subaru isn’t fearful of electrified powertrains, but it isn’t so sure the technology needs to exist in standalone models. Nor does it feel such a vehicle should ride on a dedicated platform.

In an interview, Chief Executive Officer Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said his company is considering building electric versions of existing models, rather than sink money into an electric-only offering. Just think of the eco cred a battery-powered Outback could give you.

The automaker has set aside $1.2 billion for R&D for the coming fiscal year, and hopes to have a plug-in hybrid model ready for sometime in 2018. An all-electric vehicle will arrive by 2021. For Subaru, electrifying existing models would negate the need to partner with an other automaker, and would allow the greener vehicles to capitalize on the model’s good name.

“If there’s already an attractive Subaru model, for example the XV [Crosstrek] crossover, and if a customer in Beijing wants one but is only allowed to buy an electric vehicle, if there’s no electric version then he can’t buy it,” said Yoshinaga. “Providing the choice of an EV means the customer can still desire the same Subaru.”

With this in mind, Subaru developed its modular global platform to host a wide range of propulsion sources, including an all-electric option.

Volkswagen has developed an all-new platform for its electric I.D. sub-brand, and Mercedes-Benz plans to follow a similar naming convention with its I.Q.-badged electric vehicles. That rubs Yoshinaga the wrong way. While he doesn’t want to be left behind by other automakers with bigger R&D budgets, the CEO would prefer to see “Subaru” prominently displayed on all of his company’s vehicles.

[Image: Subaru]

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  • Zip89123 Zip89123 on May 22, 2017

    Subaru will be just fine with gas only vehicles. If Subaru wants to make improvements they can start with noise insulation, better engines, better interiors, and better CVT's.

  • Tosh Tosh on May 22, 2017

    And by "easier" they actually mean "cheaper," because it's easier to start from scratch when designing an EV, as opposed to converting an ICE to EV without big compromises. Anyhow, despite today's strong-ish Subie sales, I feel Subie is destined to become a Toyota sub brand, so they're just biding their time, as this article alludes to.

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  • YellowDuck Wait...how do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
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  • Wolfwagen Always loved the late 70s and very early 80s Scout II and Terras.This resurrection will be nothing like those. SINO - Scout in Name Only