Subaru is set to join the ever-expanding electric vehicle field, but rather than developing a new ground-up EV platform the Japanese automaker will adapt its current range.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Subaru Corp CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga revealed the automaker’s approach to electrification as a means of helping the the relatively small company compete in the EV sector.
Instead of launching a specific sub brand, like BMW i or Mercedes’ fledgling EQ division, Yoshinaga sees Subaru’s brand recognition as a strength to apply the EV formula to.
“If there’s already an attractive Subaru model, for example the XV crossover, and if a customer in Beijing wants one but is only allowed to buy an electric vehicle, if there’s no electric version then he can’t buy it,” Yoshinaga told Bloomberg.
Subaru has recently invested in its first all-new chassis architecture in over twenty years, with the Subaru Global Platform as used on the new Impreza and XV developed to integrate electric propulsion from the outset, ruling out adding a second EV-specific platform (like the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform) on the grounds of cost.
Research and Development spending at Subaru will be focussed on the development of EVs going forward, with a targeted 2018 launch for the company’s first plug-in hybrid variant and a fully electric vehicle scheduled by 2021.
Spending on Subaru’s EyeSight safety system accounts for the next largest slice of the RD budget, with new autonomous highway following capabilities set to be added to the stereo camera system from this year and more advanced autonomous driving features added in 2020.
Yoshinaga revealed that Subaru is yet to select a battery partner for its electrified models with a decision to be made this year. He also didn’t rule out the possibility of partnering with another automaker for a future EV but preferred adding an electric drivetrain to one of Subaru’s existing vehicles to avoid a potentially complicated collaboration.
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