Skip to main content

Subaru Is In A Dark Place, Toyota’s Shadow

According to Consumer Reports data, the Subaru Solterra is now the most discounted new car. And Subaru wants to collaborate with Toyota for three more? See why it could be a bad idea for Subaru Corporation. 

If Subaru's two collaborations with Toyota, the BRZ sport coupe and Solterra EV, are a great idea, why are the two models the company's slowest-selling vehicles in the lineup? As I reported recently, Subaru will collaborate with Toyota to create three more new electric vehicles. Here's why it could be a bad idea. 

New data from Consumer Reports (by subscription) reveals the 2024 Subaru Solterra is now America's most discounted new car. The report says the new 2024 Solterra sells for 7% less than the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). Subaru retailers discount it for over $3,000 to move it off their lots. 

Subaru of America retailers are struggling to move the Solterra and are now offering huge discounts. Consumer Reports says, "We identified ten models selling below their sticker price, each transacting for less than $50,000." The Solterra tops the list. 

And now Subaru Corporation President and CEO Atsushi Osaki says they will collaborate with Toyota for three more all-new electric SUVs? First I'll show you the CR data and then explain why it's a bad idea. 

2024 Subaru Solterra EV

  • Price Range:  $44,995 - $51,995
  • CR MPGE:  Overall 102 / City 111 / Hwy 93 mpge
  • #5 of 14  Electric SUVs

2024 Subaru Solterra Premium AWD

  • MSRP: $44,995
  • Average savings off MSRP: $3,156
  • Average transaction price: $41,839

$3,156 is a significant discount off the Solterra's MSRP. It's a buyer's market, and Subaru needs to sell them. I don't see Toyota discounting the bZ4X that much.  

Customers can now get 0% percent financing for 72 months on a new 2023 or 2024 Solterra EV. Subaru even says no down payment is required. Before now, Subaru would not offer financing over 63 months on any of its vehicles. 

Then President and CEO Tom Doll said it was bad for the customer. "When they return, we want to ensure they have trade equity. We don't want them to owe more than the car is worth, or their payments will be too high," Doll said.

Ray Shefska at CarEdge says, "Subaru's first EV is also offered at 0% APR, but very slow charging makes it a tough car for road trips."

Three More Nearly Identical Subaru/Toyota EVs

If you've already read my report that Subaru will build three new EVs with Toyota's help, you know they won't be unique Subaru vehicles. The problem is that they will be joint ventures between the two Japanese automakers, and the models will be nearly identical, like the Solterra and bZ4X and BRZ and GR86 sports cars. 

I understand that Subaru needs to limit its risk and be careful venturing into the unknown world of electric vehicles. It has yet to be determined if the electric vehicle market will be a boom or bust in the next four to five years. Subaru is taking the safe approach and holding tight to Toyota's apron strings. Toyota can take the risk and Subaru can play it safe.

But Safe Comes With A Price  

Subaru will pay the price of not having its own electric SUVs with Subaru's unique identity and branding. They will essentially be Toyota clones, and two of the three will be built in Toyota's factories. Subaru will not have control over the manufacturing, just like the Solterra made by Toyota in Japan. 

Toyota has come out ahead with the GR86 and the bZ4X experiment because they have better sales than Subaru with both models. So why wouldn't Toyota want to have Subaru tag along like the little brother? Toyota spreads some of the costs with Subaru, and the giant automaker will reap more benefits. 

It's Not A Win-Win

From what I've seen, the Subaru Solterra EV is too expensive, has too short a range between charges, and is almost identical to the bZ4X. The Toyota bZ4X gets Subaru's X-Mode, which is a game changer for all-weather and all-terrain performance. Subaru gave Toyota its best all-wheel-drive feature. That is too steep of a price for Subaru. 

Subaru will continue to sell its soul to Toyota when they build three more electric crossovers/SUVs with Toyota. From what I've seen, Subaru must design and build its own models with its unique identity and get out of Toyota's shadow. It's a dark place they don't want to go. 

What do you think about three more Subaru/Toyota EV collaborations? Click on the red Add New Comment link below to join the discussion.  

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

Photo credit: Subaru


Rumple Stiltskin (not verified)    May 19, 2024 - 8:47AM

Probably a move based on satisfying some government provision. Holding out for PHEV Forester with Toyota electric drive and Subaru ICE. Guessing Subaru is waiting on better batteries and USA assembly factory.

Z1az (not verified)    May 19, 2024 - 4:53PM

Maybe a new solterra has been discounted more than a new BZ4X but have you seen the price for both used Solterras and BZ4X? I have seen heavily discounted used BZ4X that are sold for less than.comparable Solterras but thats only one piece of the puzzle. Don't forget their collaboration on hybrids and specifically Toyota's hybrid system with ECVT that will be offered on the forester plus upcoming hybrids. The Crosstrek did have a version of it, but neither the plug in sold in the US nor the mild hybrid (also the forester) sold in Australia and Europe offered any savings and were milquetoast at best. I don't see anything wrong with this collaboration and keep in mind that unlike many of Toyota's eAWD (rear motor) offerings (with some exceptions) Subarus AWD is different. while the solterra may have adopted this strategy, we don't know for a fact that the upcoming Subaru EVs will be like the solterra. i wish they had offered the legacy as a mild hybrid though. it would have sold well in my opinion

Troy (not verified)    May 22, 2024 - 9:22AM

15yrs at a Subaru dealership. Solterra is simply to have an EV footprint. We only get 1-2 Solterra's a month. Bigger news is Subaru adding Toyota hybrid tech across the existing model lineup. Hybrids will dominate until EV battery performance, charging speed, and enough charging stations make it a no brainer to transition away from ICE.

Robert C Hartman (not verified)    May 23, 2024 - 7:11AM

One slow-selling EV already on the lot, so let's debut three more, recognizing that all EV sales are down, even for Tesla. All the while, ICE small and mid-sized pickup trucks are selling well. And Subaru doesn't offer a one in the US market. Take the Ascent platform and build the great truck your capable of.

Subaru is my favorite marque and the first manufacturer I look to for vehicles. So I have to ask, what suppose brain-trust is making the decisions at Subaru?