While a lot of average folks like Subaru, the brand has long been popular with the hippie-dippy demographic. Frankly, it seemed like the company missed a golden opportunity to further solidify its standing with the granola crowd by being a little late on the hybrid front.
However, maybe we’ve categorized the automaker’s consumer base incorrectly — or at least their taste in powertrains. After all, the Crosstrek Hybrid wasn’t an overwhelming success. The model only lasted three years until Subaru decided to kill it off in 2016. But it’s coming back from the dead for 2019, this time as a plug-in — making it Subaru’s very first PHEV.
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.
Subarus shine when the sun does not. That reputation has been built on the back of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive so that in places that freeze, Subarus are everywhere. Given the concerns of the customer base and a corporate commitment to sustainability, a hybrid Subaru seems like an obvious slam dunk. That’s why it’s surprising it took so long to get one, even with some ties to Toyota. The XV Crosstrek is the first Subaru to go hybrid. It’s definitely the Subaru of hybrids.