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Is Subaru’s First EV The New Solterra? No, Meet The 28 Year-Old Sambar EV

Is the 2023 Subaru Solterra Compact SUV the Japanese automaker's first electric vehicle? No, and check the first Subaru EV that arrived 28 years ago.

What was Subaru's first battery-electric vehicle? Many will be surprised that it's not the all-new 2023 Subaru Solterra compact SUV EV available in the U.S. now. Instead, according to Subaru Corporation, the Sambar EV, which appeared in 1995, was the Japanese automaker's first electric vehicle.

According to Subaru, the Sambar EV was an electric vehicle based on the fifth-generation Sambar that is still sold in Japan today. By using a portable charger that used a single-phase AC 200V power supply, it could be fully charged in eight hours and had a cruising range on a full charge of 93 miles when driving at a constant speed of 24 mph.

2023 Subaru Solterra

Subaru says one of its best characteristics was the excellent quietness that made use of the rear engine layout of the base vehicle. In addition, by adopting a double floor structure, the motor and auxiliary equipment noise was blocked, further improving quietness. The Sambar EV "realized an easy-to-use, flat cargo space by devising the motor and battery placement."

The Sambar EV, Subaru's first electric vehicle, was a compact van that "pursued comfort, functionality, and safety from the standpoint of the actual user, as well as clean and quiet driving characteristics such as quietness," says Subaru.

2023 Subaru Sambar

Subaru still sells a light-duty Sambar pickup in Japan with a small footprint and is easily maneuverable on Japan's streets. But the current model is not an EV.

The Sambar is powered by a three-cylinder 660cc dual overhead cam engine producing 45 horsepower and 44 lb. ft of torque. Subaru Corporation offers four trim levels of the Sambar pickup, Base, TA, TC, and Grand Cab.

The Subaru Sambar pickup comes with either two or four-wheel-drive models and a 5-speed manual gearbox or CVT automatic transmission. Both transmissions have a city mode, suburban mode, and highway mode.

Subaru offers the 2023 Subaru Sambar light-duty pickup for Japanese customers. Now it's time for Subaru of America to ask Subaru Corporation for a pickup that would fit its North American customer's needs.

Will Subaru produce an electric pickup again? Would you buy a new 2024 Subaru Baja Wilderness EV pickup? Check out the rendering and report below.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru