Subaru and Toyota have entered into an agreement to co-develop electric cars, but the first product of that partnership may not appear for several years. Subaru unveiled a mockup of an electric SUV at a technology briefing in Japan, but wouldn’t offer a more specific launch date than “before 2025,” according to Automotive News Europe. What’s more, Subaru’s CEO said the United States will not be a priority for electric models.
The mockup had a tall SUV body, with a low roofline and steeply raked rear window, according to Automotive News Europe, giving it a sleeker look than more traditional models like the current Subaru Forester. Black plastic cladding over the wheel arches, similar to the Subaru Crosstrek, is meant to give the vehicle a more rugged appearance. The mockup also had cameras in place of exterior mirrors, according to Automotive News Europe. Some production models, including the Lexus ES and Audi E-Tron, have camera mirrors in certain markets, but the technology is not currently legal in the U.S.
Given that Subaru is only willing to show a design mockup at this time, it’s likely the electric SUV won’t start production until closer to 2025. Subaru is a relatively small automaker, lacking the resources to develop electric cars on its own. That’s why the company is teaming up with Toyota. But Toyota has relatively little experience with battery-electric cars, having focused primarily on hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles until now.
Subaru CEO Tomomi Nakamura also told Automotive News Europe that the U.S. will not be a priority for the rollout of electric cars. He said only Tesla electric cars sell well in the U.S. and that, while demand for electric cars may increase, it will likely take a while.
Despite Subaru’s association with liberal, tree-hugging customers in the Northeast and Northwest, the automaker’s approach to green cars has been conservative. The only electrified Subaru currently available in the U.S. is a plug-in hybrid version of the Crosstrek, which mates a Subaru engine to a Toyota hybrid system. The plug-in hybrid comes with a substantial price premium over the standard Crosstrek, and doesn’t offer as much electric-only driving range as other plug-in hybrids.
Subaru wants to do better. By 2030, the automaker expects electric cars and plug-in hybrids to make up 40 percent of its global sales, according to Automotive News Europe. By the mid 2030s, Subaru will have a hybrid or all-electric powertrain available in every model, Automotive News Europe reported. That will likely be necessary to meet stricter global emissions standards. Subaru will likely continue to borrow hybrid powertrain tech from Toyota.
In addition to hybrids and electric cars, Subaru and Toyota will also launch a new version of their jointly developed sports car. This will replace the current Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86, which have been around since the 2021 model year and are due for a redesign.
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