By on January 21, 2020

Crosstrek Hybrid

Like it or not, Subaru plans to make up for lost time by delving deep into the world of electrification. In a technical briefing Monday, the automaker outlined a plan to draw 40 percent of its global sales from electric or hybrid vehicles by the beginning of the next decade.

Currently, the automaker only sells the Crosstrek Hybrid, but that will change as its newly strengthened partnership with Toyota starts to bear fruit.

Subaru’s long-term plan isn’t focused solely on electrification. The automaker stated, “With a focus on enhancing Subaru’s distinctive strengths, we will further evolve our core technologies of horizontally-opposed “Boxer” engines, all-wheel-drive technologies, superior driving performance and safety, EyeSight driver assist system and environmental technologies.”

Still, gas-free driving plays a major role. Subaru aims to cut its CO2 emissions by 90 percent by the middle of the century, and a dedicated EV platform developed jointly with Toyota will serve as a springboard to that goal. From that platform, Subaru will first launch an electric crossover, though the co-developed vehicle won’t appear until 2025.

By the first half of the 2030s, which is a lifetime in the auto industry, Subaru plans to field electrification technologies in all vehicles, regardless of market.

One market could prove a tough nut to crack.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Subaru CEO Tomomi Nakamura pointed to the United States during a media briefing. Basically, he said, Americans only seem to be interested in a singular EV provider.

“The only EVs that are selling well are from Tesla,” Nakamura said. Hardly a promising situation for a company that draws two-thirds of its global volume from the U.S.

Nakamura added that the Crosstrek Hybrid, which arrived in ZEV states in 2018 (and can also credit its existence to Toyota), remains a low-volume model. On average, Nakamura said, Subaru of America sells about 300 units a month.

“We think the U.S. market is really difficult,” he said of the coming EV wave.

[Image: Subaru]

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15 Comments on “Subaru Goes Big on Electrification in New Plan, Even As CEO Admits EVs Are a Tough Sell...”


  • avatar
    jack4x

    Honestly given their buyer demographics, unremarkable gas engines, and AWD emphasis, Subaru makes more sense for electrification than almost any mainstream automaker.

    If even they can’t make it work financially, how will anyone else?

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      There’s a branding paradox there. Subaru is the official car of woke know it alls who should be all about electrics. But they’re also the official car of conspicuous non consumption and a 60,000 dollar full electric kills that dead.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      > If even they can’t make it work financially,

      The car you are looking for is the Nissan Leaf. Practical, conventional looking, reasonable sight-lines… just like a typical Subaru. The problem is that the base Model 3 is within spending-distance at the current market prices. The Model 3 is the wrong car for many people (not a hatch or CUV), but is the car everybody wants right now.

      If you fully electrify an Impreza or Crosstrek, you’d have a much more practical car the the Model 3, Model Y and one with better ergonomics than the Leaf. The problem is that it won’t be competitive with the status seekers at the $45k mark, you’d have to hit $35k so that it sells to the practical minded demographic… and you need to get a charging network down now before Tesla crowds out all mindshare about EV charging stations.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    The RAV4 config where they use an electric motor to drive the rear wheels seems like a good engineering solution for awd. You eliminate a transfer case, driveshaft, and some other hardware so it’s not all added parts and cost.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    What a bizarre plan. “We’ll develop X product even though buyers only buy Y product and we know that X product won’t sell.”
    Sounds like financial suicide to me.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    More truth on how the EV just doesn’t work given the current geopolitical situation and economics. Get woke proles.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    As with the entire EV market, the trajectory of battery prices will determine what happens here. They need to be cut to 50%-60% of what they are today.

    If they fall enough, then this mid-decade BEV crossover can be a pretty seamless supplement/replacement for the Forester.

    If they don’t fall enough, then the economics don’t work and it remains a niche product because of its cost.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This won’t work since they’re not really committed. Neither is Toyota.

    Step 1 is to explain where you’re going to source XX GWh of battery capacity, which depends on the vehicles and quantity of vehicles you’re going to build, and that depends on having a willing market for a vehicle with YYY miles of range at a certain price point.

    This is also tacit admission that their vehicles are largely used for on-road use – not off-road – and that their main competition is Tesla. So as Cactuar said above, they say they’re going to develop what will end up as a niche, losing product for them.

    And sorry, the boxer engine holds no interest for me. Its advantages are merely on paper – not real-world. Just like Mazda’s obsession with the rotary, Subaru is enslaved to the boxer. It’s weird.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “This won’t work since they’re not really committed. Neither is Toyota.”

      Other than Tesla, who is committed? Nissan sure seemed to be at one time, and GM probably too at least until Volt sales never materialized.

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        VW is committed everywhere but in the US. So much so they’re betting the farm on it.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @28: Toyota is very committed. They have 6 new EVs planned by 2025 and will be officially unveiling their solid-state battery as part of the Olympics opening ceremony. Although they have a solid-state battery now, it’s going to take a while to get it into mass production.

        Toyota’s solid-state and Tesla’s Maxwell technology are going to be game-changers for the EV market. The market will be very different the latter half of the decade and manufacturers need to be prepared.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    NEWS FLASH: Subaru claims green aspirations in the distant future. Sales go up further.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I just bought a Texas built Tacoma TRD Off-Road (access cab… which I think they’re all currently coming from Texas). I think it’s a great truck for the money. Fun to drive, seems solid. Two years ago I added a 4Runner to my garage. Great visibility, and built in Japan.

    I did consider a Tundra, but the MPG is horrible in those for one. I’d buy a Ram before I’d buy a Tundra.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    “We make an expensive PHEV with ridiculously short electric range and weird driving dynamics. It doesn’t sell. See, EVs won’t work for us!”

    If a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV offers more range, more room, faster charging, a better AWD system, etc. for the same price, why would anyone buy the Subaru? And that’s basically a 10 year old design that Mitsubishi hasn’t updated in the US market (even as its Euro volume destinations have seen upgrades to power, range and MPG). When Mitsubishi’s entrant in a segment is hands down better than yours, maybe you need to try harder.

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