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Subaru’s New All-Electric SUV Is Now Tied To Toyota But It May Be Late To The Party

Subaru will get new hybrid and electric vehicle technology from Toyota. Are Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, Ascent SUV hybrid and EV models arriving too slow?


You have heard Subaru Corporation has officially joined the Toyota group as the large automaker has increased its stake in Subaru to 20 percent. This will help smaller Subaru to be competitive in the global electric vehicle revolution. Subaru does not have the resources for research and development of all-electric technology needed to build new EV models and they need Toyota to pull it off. But is their timeframe for bringing these new electrified models too slow?

Toyota’s larger stake will create new hybrids and plug-in hybrid opportunities for Subaru with its existing 2020 Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and Ascent SUVs, and new models will be coming. Subaru announced recently, by 2030, 40 percent of all Subaru global sales will come from electric vehicles (EVs) or hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Subaru Forester, 2020 Subaru CrosstrekSubaru reveals future Subaru model at a January press conference

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By the first half of the 2030s, all Subaru vehicles sold worldwide will have some form of hybrid power or all-electric technology. This will be developed using Toyota’s hybrid technology. But these Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and Ascent models won’t be coming anytime soon as they are still 12-15 years from being available for customers.

When will Subaru launch its first all-electric model?

Subaru will also collaborate with Toyota to develop its first all-electric all-wheel-drive vehicle, but it won’t go on sale until the first half of the 2020s and is 4-5 years from being launched. Automotive News talked with Kazuhiro Abe, Subaru's vice president for product planning at the Tokyo Motor Show, and he says Subaru and Toyota will use the same platform, but the new EV will have its own unique character.

2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Subaru Forester, 2020 Subaru CrosstrekNew Subaru EV rendering from press conference materials

Abe says the new all-electric model will be about the same size as a Subaru Forester and it will be sold in the U.S., and it is being developed as a global vehicle. He also revealed it could be offered in front-wheel-drive configuration with one motor and an all-wheel-drive variant with two motors. He says the all-new vehicle will be distinctively a Subaru.

The report says Subaru and Toyota are collaborating on the new EV’s architecture, powertrain, and electric motor. The new platform will offer the flexibility to underpin multiple vehicle types, including C-segment and D-segment sedans and crossovers.

Subaru and Toyota are not expecting all-electric demand in the U.S. to increase anytime before the mid-2030s. "I don't know when, but EV demand will expand sometime," Abe said. "We are thinking it will expand a lot. Maybe not in the early '30s, but maybe from the late '30s or ‘40s."

The expanded Toyota partnership will bring an all-electric Subaru model that will not arrive for another 4-5 years. Big changes are coming to existing nameplates like the 2020 Outback wagon, Forester compact SUV, Crosstrek subcompact and Ascent family hauler. They will be electrified with hybrid or plug-in hybrid technology but they are still 12-15 years from being available for customers. Subaru could be late to the party as other automakers are ramping up their lineups with new electrified models. Stay tuned.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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Photo credit: Subaru


Glenn (not verified)    February 24, 2020 - 11:30AM

Subaru needs hybrid SUVs (Crosstrek, Forester) across the U.S. sooner rather than later. Honda, Ford and Toyota are there already. Full EV can wait till the 2030's.

Scott Rider (not verified)    February 26, 2020 - 1:47PM

How the hell is it too late for Subbie??? I don't get your reasoning... EVs are still emerging, so how is it not good timing to have a Subbie, a company that is growing at a frenzy pace, to start getting EVs out.. Plus with Toyota backing them, their future looks very bright...

Rick Stockton (not verified)    February 27, 2020 - 3:42PM

I'm with Glen. I have been a loyal Subaru customer, but I can't imagine myself buying a pure-ICE vehicle after 2023. Volkswagen will be a strong competitor at that time. And, with at least modest towing capability (the hitch would typically be used for bike racks and light duty), the pure-electric model Y could be very compelling. The prospect of pouring $2500 of CO2-generating gasoline into a new ICE-vehicle fuel tank, every year, makes more expensive electrical plug-ins very attractive. (BTW, I have about 7Kw of Solar on the roof.)

XTman (not verified)    March 1, 2020 - 4:55AM

I agree with Denis. 5 to 10 years down the road is too late. Here in Israel where regular 95 octane unleaded gas costs twice as much as in the US, there is a strong shift toward hybrids, mainly Toyota and Hyundai, and even a slight market for EV. There are about six European and roughly ten far-eastern car makers that already offer EVs for sale. In any case, Subaru is going to lose the boxer engine's low center of gravity (CG) advantage, as the EV's batteries are placed under the floor , thus lowering the CG even further. Furthermore, the unique AWD attribute of Subaru is easily emulated by placing two electrical motors, one in front and one at the back. So Subaru may lose two of its core advantages and show up late, when everybody already sells EVs that are no less capable than the future Subaru.
Electrical motors are relatively reliable. So quality would not be a differentiating point.
Toyota and Subaru have to accelerate their "sleeping beauty" pace and bring new stuff to the party. An interesting feature could be some advanced features.
A major technical advantage would be 4 electrical motors, one per wheel, that are controlled separately. Such a Subaru would be capable of a spinning radius that is half of the wheelbase length. Just like a caterpillar tractor, while keeping the CG at a minimum. This could increase the maneuverability and the active safety of the vehicle. Wake up Subaru, before it is too late!

bob (not verified)    March 5, 2020 - 3:29PM

I'm still waiting for the boxer diesel in the US. Just because they say they'll bring an all electric Subaru to the us market, doesn't mean that they will.