Subaru unveils first all-electric SUV

Subaru Corp unveiled its first all-electric SUV jointly developed with Toyota Motor Corp as the smaller automaker plays catchup with its larger peers in electric cars.

The Japanese automaker premiered its Solterra, built on the new “e-Subaru Global platform,” at a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday. The platform, developed in conjunction with Toyota, is dedicated to battery-electric cars.

The model will be sold in the US, Canada, Europe, China and Japan by the middle of next year, along with Toyota’s bZ4X.

Subaru Solterra

Subaru is another Japanese automaker tightening alliances with bigger rivals to ride out the once-in-a-lifetime shift to EVs. Honda Motor Co has teamed up with General Motors Co. In the US, where Subaru makes nearly 70% of its sales, Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package last week that paves the way for a clean energy future.

“We hope to use the alliance to build up technology and know-how” until the world fully shifts toward battery electric cars, Subaru chief executive officer Tomomi Nakamura said at the briefing. “Eventually BEVs will be an area to compete with other automakers, including Toyota.”

Nakamura said EVs today are still at their “dawn.” Subaru said in early 2020 that it didn’t see much evidence Americans want electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, but now the automaker is trying to boost its market share in the US. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, Subaru had a US market share of 4.2% last year, up from 2% in 2011.

Subaru last year said it plans to have EVs, including battery and hybrid cars, make up 40% of its global sales by 2030 and 100% by 2035. To moderate development costs, it deepened a capital alliance with Toyota in 2019, and the pair jointly made the latest BRZ sports cars earlier this year.

The interior of Solterra

In developing Solterra, Toyota offered connected and EV technologies, while Subaru, the maker of Forester and Outback wagons, shared all-wheel-drive technology, according to Subaru.

The global chip crunch hasn’t passed Subaru by, with the automaker cutting its full-year sales and profit forecast last week due to a shortage of parts.

Subaru shares, up around 5% this year, were little changed on Thursday.

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Subaru unveils first all-electric SUV