It’s been an embarrassment to Toyota and Subaru when they announced in June the bZ4X and Subaru Solterra all-electric EV production was shut down because the wheels could fall off the new EVs. Both models were recalled when the all-new 2023 Solterra was to start its U.S. launch.
A new report from Automotive News (by subscription) says that Toyota Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda said production of the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra is set to resume today, Thursday, October 6.
Subaru announced the recall of the new Solterra in June before it had sold any new EVs to U.S. customers. The recall affected about 1,600 Solterra models. The 2023 Subaru Solterra EV is built by Toyota in its Motomachi assembly plant in Japan alongside the bZ4X, where production was suspended until a fix to the problem was found. The Automotive News report says Toyota “raced to find a remedy for the problem.”
What caused the wheels to fall off?
The report says the defect resulted from Toyota not accounting for the high torque exerted on the wheels by the compact SUV’s all-electric drivetrain. The wheels are attached with hub bolts, but even in low mileage use, the wheels can come loose due to spirited driving, “such as turning sharply or braking aggressively.”
The problem worsened because of the extra weight of the EV’s lithium-ion battery pack. Maeda said the original wheel surface was too rough, with wide variances in processing quality.
How did Toyota fix the problem?
The solution was finally figured out and fixed by adding a washer to the hub bolts and improving the friction of the wheel surface. Maeda said it took Toyota engineers so long to introduce the remedy because they needed to verify its effectiveness and safety under various conditions, including turning, braking and acceleration.
When will the Solterra be available for U.S. customers?
Subaru of America has not announced when the Solterra will arrive in U.S. showrooms. With production re-starting now, the 2023 Subaru Solterra could come before the end of the year. Stay tuned.
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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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