• Bloomberg, Reuters


Subaru Corp. unveiled its first all-electric SUV jointly developed with Toyota Motor Corp. as the smaller automaker plays catchup with its larger peers in the world of electric cars.

The Japanese automaker premiered its Solterra, built on the new “e-Subaru Global platform,” at a new conference in Tokyo on Thursday.

The platform, developed in conjunction with Toyota, is dedicated to battery-electric cars. The model will be sold in the U.S., Canada, Europe, China and Japan by the middle of next year, along with Toyota’s bZ4X.

The front-wheel drive Solterra has a cruising range of 530 kilometers, while the all-wheel drive version can drive 460 km on a single charge, Subaru said.

Subaru is another Japanese automaker tightening alliances with bigger rivals to ride out the once-in-a-lifetime shift to EVs. Honda Motor Co. has teamed up with General Motors Co. In the U.S., where Subaru makes nearly 70% of its sales, Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package last week that paves the way for a clean energy future.

“We hope to use the alliance to build up technology and know-how” until the world fully shifts toward battery electric cars, Subaru Chief Executive Officer Tomomi Nakamura said at the briefing. “Eventually BEVs will be an area to compete with other automakers, including Toyota.”

Nakamura said EVs today are still at their “dawn.” Subaru said in early 2020 that it didn’t see much evidence Americans want electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, but now the automaker is trying to boost its market share in the U.S. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, Subaru had a U.S. market share of 4.2% last year, up from 2% in 2011.

Subaru last year said it plans to have EVs, including battery and hybrid cars, make up 40% of its global sales by 2030 and 100% by 2035. To moderate development costs, it deepened a capital alliance with Toyota in 2019, and the pair jointly made the latest BRZ sports cars earlier this year.

In developing Solterra, Toyota offered connected and EV technologies, while Subaru, the maker of Forester and Outback wagons, shared all-wheel-drive technology, according to Subaru.

Toyota owns a fifth of Subaru, and has a 5% stake in Mazda Motor Corp., which plans to launch 13 electrified vehicles by 2025, including hybrids and BEVs that will incorporate Toyota technology.

The global chip crunch hasn’t passed Subaru by, with the automaker cutting its full-year sales and profit forecast last week due to a shortage of parts.

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