By on February 5, 2018

Crosstrek Hybrid

If you’re a modern-day automaker without an electrification strategy, you’re in trouble. Not only will you face the global stigma of being truly evil, you might also miss out on the possibility of future sales. Sure, electric vehicles only account for about 1 percent of total domestic deliveries right now, but it’s a growth market, spurred on by political pressure and regulatory action. Some regions, like California, have plug-ins taking up as much as 5 percent of annual car sales.

Subaru needs help, as it doesn’t sell a single electrified vehicle. The brand discontinued the Crosstrek Hybrid, and its only battery-driven plug-in, the long-defunct Stella EV, was sold only in Japan and proved about as popular as VD. While Subaru can certainly build a good car, it hasn’t had the best luck with electric vehicles.

It’s now calling on its “friends” for backup. 

Despite having an in-house electrification project, Subaru’s chief technical officer Takeshi Tachimori told Automotive News the brand will lean heavily on Toyota to produce its upcoming plug-in hybrid and pure EV. “For our plug-in hybrid to be introduced this year, we have used Toyota’s technologies as much as possible,” Tachimori explained.

Most of that tech will be sourced from the Prius Prime, however, the final product will not be a rebadged Toyota. Subaru’s hybrid will use a longitudinal powertrain, instead of a transverse one, but it will share parts. The company’s tight R&D budget requires the manufacturer to expend the majority of its resources perfecting its current boxer engine and assorted safety systems.

“We can’t engage in a large-scale [EV] development,” Tachimori said.

Subaru wants a totally electric vehicle by 2021. That program also hinges on Toyota’s support, as Subaru has decided to join its EV Common Architecture Spirit Co. — which includes both Mazda and Denso. The group’s aim is to jointly develop basic structural technologies for electric cars. Subaru, along with Suzuki, Hino, and Daihatsu, are latecomers to the program but Tachimori feels it’s a good way to ensure his company doesn’t fall behind in its development efforts.

“If there is a basic technological foundation, that would help carmakers not waste resources,” he said.

However, Subaru doesn’t expect electrified vehicles to become its best-selling models. Tachimori claims the new plug-in hybrid will only be sold in states with stringent zero-emission vehicle regulations. Meanwhile, it’ll continue development on the BEV as it looks to its biggest competitors for assistance. But while the brand appears to recognize electric vehicles as important, Subaru also seems to be taking a cautious approach.

“Every carmaker has a sense of urgency,” Tachimori said. “We don’t know how battery technology will evolve or how we should handle it or what would be the best way to use it as an energy source. Carmakers are still trying to figure out what a basic EV structure will look like.”

[Images: Subaru]

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35 Comments on “Subaru Turns to Its Friends for Electrification Help...”

  • avatar

    Subaru could sell cars that burn coal and people will buy them if there’s a dog in the tv spots.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’d consider a Subaru EV since it won’t have that nasty boxer engine.

  • avatar

    As long as it’s ugly and chews through parts it will meet expectations for the brand.

  • avatar

    I often wonder what the demographic is for this site. The way everyone attacks Subaru is strange. I read how proud owners are of certain makes and models when I read the comments here. Some have undying love of the GM 3800, others love the “panther” or “fox” bodies. I don’t get that, but to each his own.
    Maybe some of you readers should venture out past your own driveways and see what other vehicles and brands are available. You might be suprised at how good some of the vehicles available can be.
    By the way, if the boxer engine was so terrible I don’t think Porsche would use it.

    • 0 avatar

      Our demographic is older, and has long memories of unreliability of any fashion. It’s been less than 20 years since Subaru had head gasket issues, so they’re still quite fresh on the brain.

      Ask about Mazda rust.

      • 0 avatar

        And yet those same folks conveniently forget that GM actively has tried to kill its own customers this century.

        Japanese company with quality issues: get the pitchforks
        American company with safety issues: nothing to see here, move along

        • 0 avatar

          I think GM’s failings are touted here as well. We talk about how bad the Northstar was with regularity, and the ignition cylinder issue was covered extensively.

        • 0 avatar

          Lol, GM does not get a pass on that or anything else on this site, and certainly not the other 1.5 American car makers. Some like the 3800, that doesn’t mean they love everything GM makes/does for all time. Most here are likely to continuously doubt GM and other American carmakers no matter what they do, how they improve or what they build.

          Either you select a very small section of the comments, or you just want to pretend their is bias when there isnt, but either way, GM, Ford and FCA are often far more criticised than any Japanse automaker on this site.

          But, yes, somebody likes an engine GM made a decade ago, so, that means 100% of us believe GM can do no wrong. Sure.

          • 0 avatar

            *Japanese (not sure why autocorrect didn’t catch that).

            Also, “there” instead of “their”.

            Editing windows need to be longer. 5 minutes is ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar

        > Our demographic is older,

        This might be the thing. I’m seeing a big uptake of Subaru with young families/professionals in the 35-45 bracket (younger than the average TTAC crowd?), none of them have dogs, go camping or drive around with cargo pods on the roof. All of them are happy with a car ‘that just works’; more than one have GTi’s as second cars, so it’s not likely that their Venn diagram overlaps with the traditional Toyota crowd.

    • 0 avatar

      “I often wonder what the demographic is for this site”

      At its inception by Farago, a long, long time ago in an internet galaxy far, far away, the demo consisted of individuals who were directly tied to, or employed within, the car industry, both in the US and abroad.

      That’s how I got involved with ttac; it was a must-read for anyone who made their living from the car industry.

      Sales legends like Buickman, et al, were widely known and followed.

      These days?

      Things have changed.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, it’s weird. My wife and I transitioned to each owning a Subaru over the last few years. Never really considered them prior to that, but our research showed the head gasket problems being pretty firmly in the past. Reliability is way up, interior comforts gradually increasing, as well. They offer good, light off-road capability for a good price – and we weren’t put in the position of handwringing over whether or not to opt for AWD, since that’s the only choice. The Forester has taken us to the middle of Death Valley very far off civilized roads the last couple years, so we’ve gotten good use out of it. And EyeSight has been transformative for my commute.

      Been wondering about what, if any, electrification play Subaru had up its sleeves. They’re making conventionally good cars nowadays, but they do seem late the the hybrid/electric game, the weird CrossTrek hybrid notwithstanding.

    • 0 avatar

      This site used to be called “The Truth About Cars”. Now it’s called “Hangout For Redneck Motorheads”. Probably not a coincidence this has evoloved during VerticalScope’s ownership, given the nature of their portfolio of websites.

      • 0 avatar

        If you need a better place to be a snob and look down on others, you’re welcomed to go find it. Take your negativity and your outright bigotry with you.

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks for proving my point. The owners and moderators will deal with me as they see fit. If they are comfortable with your personal attacks on me, presumably they are comfortable with my general comments.

      • 0 avatar

        This site used to be called “The Truth About Cars”. Now it’s called “Hangout For Redneck Motorheads”.

        Finally. Persistence paid off.

    • 0 avatar

      As a long time Subaru owner, I am compelled to criticize. I call it “sharing the love”.

    • 0 avatar

      “I don’t get that, but to each his own.”

      I’ve driven newer Subarus, but I don’t “get” them the same way you don’t “get” 3800s or Fox bodies. Still, it’s your money, so if that’s what you like then go for it.

      We’re just internet strangers goofing on a car brand during our lunch break and sharing unverifiable anecdotes. It isn’t like we have any actual power.

  • avatar

    An electric Subaru? No way that this can work. I’ve just experienced a horrible Subaru-like failure on my ’11 Outback. With only 121k miles on the clock and 7 years after manufacture the ELECTRIC passenger-side position light bulb blew out! What a disaster! It cost me $2.38 and two entire minutes of my life to replace it! One would expect ELECTRIC light bulbs to last forever on these supposed-quality vehicles. Therefore, an electric Subaru will be an unmitigated disaster. And now I read all the third- and fourth-hand horror stories from non-owners of current Subaru vehicles about the “execrable” Subaru’s of yore. I’m convinced. Subaru’s are junk, just junk. /s

  • avatar

    By 07 February, Subaru of America is to call me back with an answer as to whether they will cover or contribute to the head gasket repair needed on my 2004 Forester 2.5X. It currently has 112,874 miles which, of course, is out of warranty. However, the local Subaru dealer replaced these head gaskets in 2011 at 54,581 miles under warranty. This Forester replaced my 1997 Legacy 5spd wagon that I drove 67k flawless miles until 2004. The dealer quoted $2,800 for the repair, including timing belt and water pump. Their decision will determine whether I ever own another Subaru. Am I unreasonable to expect a head gasket to last longer than 55k miles?

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. Because you have no idea how well the dealership performed the head gasket work back in 2011. There is also the matter of time – do you expect to be warranted forever? I don’t suppose Subaru is quaking in its boots worrying about your test for a freebie as to whether you buy a new Forester.

      My Subaru dealer was once excellent, with two outstanding mechanics. They left one after the other and now run the city’s police car service center. The mechanics remaining are stumped beyond opening carboard boxes of replacement parts, then when that doesn’t work, well it’s not their fault. Useless.

      In my wretched climate, rust is what has caused trouble. Gas tank filler necks, radiator supports rusted off, the rear diff carrier subframe scaling away to nothing. Completely seized brake calipers and two sets of disc rotors have come and gone on my 2008. The other failing is wheel bearings – three out of four gone in a mere 75K. I don’t drive a lot, but when I do I stomp it hard, being a turbo. I bought it for some go power and AWD in winter. No point complaining about mileage. My previous ’99 Impreza was more reliable than the Legacy turbo, so there’s that, but neither engine used(s) oil, although the Impreza leaked it into the spark plug wells. No head gasket problems.

      The dealer keeps trying to sell me new cars. Five minutes in the BRZ and I knew it was a dud. The current Impreza and the 2012 to 2017 ones with the new chain cam drive have exactly zero “heart”. They are extremely boring cars, not a patch on the late ’90s Impreza, but no doubt safer to drive into a tree. The WRX is just too damn loud with an el cheapo interior, and not all that quick with lumpy engine response. The Legacy 3.6 is slothful and wobbly. Subaru has changed since 2010 or so but I haven’t in what I look for. So, barring a miracle, no new Subaru for me.

  • avatar

    Here on TTAC, everyone has opinions on vehicles they’ve never driven let alone owned, and opinions are delivered as if they were facts from on high. Me, I waste dealers’ time trying out cars, and my opinion, for what it’s not worth, is that cars are not that great to drive these days. Crossovers bore the living sh!t out of me, including my brother’s CX-5, and give me a depressed feeling. Zero joie-de-vivre. No enthusiasm. Then there’s pickup trucks, which I laughed at 50 years ago and see no reason to like today, ponderous ill-handling brutes.

    If I had any interest in trucks I’d go to a truck site, but here I get fed trucks day in day out on a site nominally about cars. My years with leaf sprung live axles ended in 1964, and I have no wish to return to antiquity.

    This site is called The Truth About Cars and is owned by the Toronto Star newspaper Corporation Torstar through Verticalscope which sold out to it several years ago.

    Obviously TTAC has changed through the years to the mild milquetoast format of today. Stevenson tried to get something going but was overwhelmed; Healey has gone to ground showing no evidence of leadership at all. Under him, there has been no enunciation at all of what TTAC stands for. Time to wake up

    There have been articles by enthusiastic readers which I commend, such as Rare Rides, but the general tenor is slothful and yet opiniated on social matters like what life’s like beyond the blinkered borders of North America.

    Beyond Baruth and his Life Journey to Somewhere or other, the remaining staff have no technical or writing chops that can be called definitive. The fiasco that went on for months where we were informed that Mazda’s new SkyActiv-X engine was sparkless was indicative of the uninformed technical side of the “truth” about cars. And what’s more, the author repeating the fallacy over and over again seemed to bask in his ignorance. After all, are there any consequences for getting it wrong? Apparently not.

    Having run some decent sized engineering departments in my time, I’d have made some changes if I’d been running the place. General mediocrity and being afraid to stick one’s head up above the gunwales is the signature of just getting by. If you don’t demand excellence, and exhibit the same by showing the way, then this is what you get. Comfiness and little else.

    I wouldn’t waste my time writing all this, if I didn’t hope that there was a chance this place would buck up a bit. But it’s rapidly approaching the extinction point for me, and judging by others’ comments, I’m not alone in thinking this way. It’s surely time to move beyond walking on the spot, which is worn out from overuse and repetition.

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