Subaru is about to enter the electric car market, and are considering creating electric versions of their existing models. As emissions rules change, several automotive companies are putting plenty of money into creating battery-powered vehicles.
Subaru is expected to make record investments in their research and development department this year, and are considering installing electric powertrains into current models over designing brand new electric cars. This would allow Subaru to capitalize on their reputation for being safe, without needing to team up with another automaker.
This strategy is different from the way other manufacturers are approaching the problem. Mercedes-Benz, who are bundling all of their electric technology under the EQ sub-brand to give it better visibility.
Subaru believe that creating electronic versions of their current models makes sense as it would allow people around the world to purchase their favorite Subaru models, no matter what kind of emission regulations come into effect. Giving the customer the choice of an electric vehicle means that everyone can get the Subaru they want.
Research and Development Spending
Subaru is pumping more money into electronification than they are other areas of R&D, such as connected cars and autonomous driving. The company is hoping to create a plug-in hybrid next year, with an all-electric vehicle released by 2021. Subaru is putting some 134 billion yen ($1.2 billion) into researching and development new technologies between March 2017 and 2018, double the amount spent for the same period ending in 2014.
It sounds like a lot of money, but Subaru is still spending less than other Japanese automakers looking to embrace the EV market. Toyota and Honda will invest 1.05 trillion yen and 750 billion yen respectively, more than triple what Subaru is spending.
Honda have already unveiled an all-electric version of their Clarity sedan, while Toyota is aiming to introduce a global electronic vehicle soon. Honda are also teaming up with Hitachi to create EV motors.
The CEO of Subaru said that he isn’t against the idea of partnering up to create an all-electric vehicle. He just feels that there is no need to partner up when the company plans to simply add an electric powertrain to existing Subaru vehicles. Their main focus is choosing the right suppler for the motor and battery. He suggested the company were looking at Samsung and Panasonic as potential partners in this regard.
The reason that Subaru is able to take the approach of going alone is because safety has become the defining feature of the company. They aren’t defined by the boxer engine that can be found in their gas-powered vehicles. This means they can change the engines without making the cars any less desirable, as long as they remain just as safe. One advantage of this is that your old BoodMo Subaru spare parts may work in the new electrified model of your old petrol car.
The XV crossover for example – known in the US as the Crosstrek – took top place alongside the Impreza sedan for safety in the Japan New Car Assessment Program. The models actually achieved the highest score ever, proving their safety. As long as Subaru continues to sell itself on safety, there’s no reason to design and build new cars with new engines.