2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Forester, 2020 Crosstrek, 2020 Ascent
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The Subaru Story They Don’t Want You To Read

Subaru doesn’t think you are ready for an all-EV lineup. Why is Subaru taking a slow is safe approach with the 2020 Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and Ascent models?

Subaru doesn’t think you would buy an all-electric Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, or Ascent model. Subaru’s top boss Tomomi Nakamura says U.S. buyers aren’t ready for an all-EV lineup. At least not yet. A story in the Wall Street Journal says Subaru is only selling around 300 of its all-new 2020 Crosstrek Hybrid models per month, and a story from Automotive News Europe quotes Nakamura saying, “The only EVs that are selling well are from Tesla,” he said at a technology briefing earlier this week.

Subaru doesn’t want you to know they are controlling the sale of its first-ever plug-in. The top Subaru boss fails to tell you they only make the 2020 Crosstrek plug-in hybrid available in limited quantities and only in a few states. It’s hard to sell a new model if customers can’t even find one.

2020 Subaru Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid
Subaru is limiting quantities of the Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid

It’s all about playing it safe

Subaru doesn’t want to take the risk of bringing an all-electric Outback, Forester, Crosstrek or Ascent model to customers yet. In the briefing to journalists this week, Subaru tried to impress them by spelling out its plan to make at least 40 percent of its global sales electric vehicles or hybrid electric vehicles but says you will have to wait another decade (by 2030) to get one.

Subaru teased a futuristic EV all-wheel-drive model this week but said you can’t have it. Nakamura said at the briefing, Subaru, which is now 20 percent owned by Toyota, will collaborate with the largest Japanese automaker on new hybrid technology and introduce a vehicle with the technology sometime this decade. Subaru is also jointly developing an all-electric SUV with Toyota and plans to bring it to major markets including the U.S. but not for another five years.

New Subaru all-electric SUV
Subaru says an all-electric SUV is coming by 2025

Subaru’s chief technology officer, Tetsuo Onuki says projections of EVs taking over the market in the next decade aren’t realistic. “To be honest, we don’t expect the market is going to turn into all-electric vehicles in 2030,” Mr. Onuki said. “They’re going to be quite expensive.”

What’s next for Subaru?

The second-generation Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 is coming next with a possible new turbocharged engine, and the sports coupe will possibly ride on Toyota’s TNGA architecture (Toyota New Generation Architecture). But it’s not going to get hybrid technology for another decade at least.

Subaru thinks taking the slow approach is best for its customers. For now, Subaru is sitting on the sidelines until all-electric vehicles become more widely accepted in the U.S. market. Subaru’s president Tomomi Nakamura seems content to wait and watch for at least another half-decade.

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Subaru will instead focus on reducing its carbon footprint from its factories, offices and other facilities, while improving the safety and drivability of the top-selling 2020 Subaru Outback, Forester, Crosstrek and Ascent models. Subaru is taking a slow is safe approach when it comes to an EV lineup and points to slow sales of the 2020 Crosstrek Hybrid to prove you won’t buy them.

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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 FacebookTwitterInstagramSubaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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I’ll be buying manual ICE cars for as long as they’re available.
Who cares. I don’t want an electric vehicle. We have owned 7 Subaru’s. I live in a rural state and drive a lot. I don’t want to wait a half hour to charge up my vehicle. Also the manufacturing of electric vehicles is not green nor is the source of electricity. You are kidding yourself if you think it is green to drive an electric vehicle
Someone mentioned they get 50 Mpg with Crosstrek hybrid, but this looks to be absolute best case scenario: The EPA estimates that the Crosstrek Hybrid can achieve 35 mpg in combined city/highway driving. This just isn't good enough to compete with the other best in class EV and PHEV cars, which I still argue is the bigger problem, that the market's reluctance against EV in general.
This is only the case potentially if you are doing a trip from full EV and then burn the full tank of gas in one trip. I'm averaging over 100 MPG on my PHEV with about 5000 miles on the odometer. My best tank was about 1100 miles and that wasn't even a full tank of gas. I also get more than the EPA stated 17mi of EV. I can get almost 25mi if I drive right and not on roads over 50mph.
We're getting 50 mpg after about 9 months and almost 6,000 miles, might have been my comment you saw. We could get even better mileage if we had a daily commute to town, the round trip is easily within our 20+ mile all EV range, and if we hadn't gone on several road trips in which we couldn't plug in to charge the battery. We got over 36 mpg without plugging it in during the 1,000 mile engine break-in period, on a road trip through the mountains the first week we owned the car. How many of those "best in class" EV's and PHEV's have almost 9 inches of ground clearance and full-time mechanical AWD, both of which are necessities for where we live.
I don't understand why plug-in hybrids aren't more popular (other than the expense). City dwellers would use battery power most of the time but not be constrained by limited charging stations when they wanted to go adventuring - which is what Subarus are made for.
No doubt Subaru has carefully considered the sales numbers of EVs worldwide. By not going all-electric Subaru is playing smart and not and not focusing on a small market led by true believers. They're also not betting the company on the reliability of Version 1.0 drivetrains. If I were a major stockholder, that's what exactly what I'd want them to do.
The market is quickly changing. They may be too far off to catch up ion they are not careful. We are not talking converting ALL of their cars, but the Forester and the new 3 row SUV are good candidates for a hybrid at least.
My next car - I will look at EVs and hybrids first. Sorry Subaru.
I'd certainly be glad to buy a Subaru plug-in hybrid if they could get it right. A full EV? Probably not until the charging infrastructure is at least as well-developed as the petrol infrastructure. I don't ever want to be 100 miles away from the nearest charging station with a low battery. I can always carry a couple of jerry cans of fuel but electricity isn't so cooperative.
If Subaru released an Outback or Forester PHEV with a 40+ mile all EV range, they would not be able to make them fast enough to keep up with demand. Given Toyota's large stake in Subaru and the fact that the new RAV4 Prime has the necessary tech already, the only reasoning I can figure that this car does not yet exist is that Toyota does not want the competition and is heavily leaning on Subaru to stall on EV tech as long as possible.
Subaru's effort is underwhelming. They don't even need to go full BEV, I'd have stayed with the brand if they had a good hybrid. Crosstrek is an embarrassment, considering Toyota knows how to make a genuinely good hybrid. The upcoming RAV4 Prime hybrid is going to have 300+ HP, why couldn't Subaru tap some of that goodness for their lineup?
The leaders on the Oregon Trail were the ones with arrows in their backs.
A lot of the comments on here seem to assume that cars either have to be an ICE or a BEV, which is obviously not the case. Subaru's target market doesn't want a BEV, but would be very receptive to a hybrid or PHEV. They could achieve significant fuel economy improvements even with a regular hybrid system, and it would also solve the annoying engine start/stop thing, as well as the under-powered 2.5i, especially in the Outback.
I can see a lot of commenters here really drank the electric Kool-Aid. Electric doesn't translate to free power; modern ICE engines produce about 1% of the emissions of a 1960's era vehicle, and the resources required to refine, produce, and ultimately dispose of the massive (and highly toxic) batteries needed to power EV's far exceed the benefits of that emissions trade-off. There are certainly better solutions than ICE, but buying an EV (at least at this stage in it's development) doesn't mean you're a hero. EV's are ultimately contributing more to pollution and environmental damage than modern ICE vehicles. Subaru's approach to taking the necessary steps to implement stricter emissions controls in their factories and manufacturing pipelines is (at least right now) the right answer to the question that everyone else is getting wrong.
Pure BEVs do require a lot of batteries, but the lifecycle emissions are still lower than ICE. However, there is barely any trade-off with a regular hybrid, as there is only about 1-1.5kwh of batteries, and that takes something like a Rav4 and brings it from 26mpg to 40mpg. Toyota did the calculations and figured out that because of their limited battery supply, they could save more emissions from doing hybrids and plug-in hybrids than BEVs, but again, none of that is an argument for straight ICE vehicles, as there is no rational argument for straight ICE vehicles in the year 2020.