Subaru to Consider Adding EV’s as Part of New R&D Push

Posted by at 10:39 am on May 23, 2017

Subaru Corp. is considering electric versions of its existing models for the carmaker’s first foray into the technology, as it joins peers around the world in pouring cash into battery-powered vehicles amid tightening emissions rules.

The Japanese company, which plans to make record investments in research and development in this financial year, is weighing installing electric powertrains in current models rather than designing an all-new car, CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, 63, said recently. The move would allow Subaru to capitalize on its reputation for safety while eliminating the need to partner with another automaker, he said.

Such a strategy would contrast with the approach of other manufacturers like Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz. The luxury-car maker has bundled its electric-vehicle technology, including charging boxes and energy storage, under the EQ sub-brand, giving it more visibility to better compete with Tesla Inc. Yoshinaga sees advantages in sticking with a single nameplate.

“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,” he said at the automaker’s headquarters in Tokyo. “Providing the choice of an EV means the customer can still desire the same Subaru.”

R&D Spending

Subaru is prioritizing spending on electrification over other technologies, like autonomous driving and connected cars, as it races to bring a plug-in hybrid model to market next year and an all-electric vehicle by 2021. The company is budgeting 134 billion yen ($1.2 billion) on research and development in the 12 months through March 2018, more than double what it spent in the year ended March 2014.

Subaru’s spending on r&d is still less than the big Japanese automakers that are also stepping up efforts to produce EVs. Toyota Motor Corp., which owns a 16.9 percent stake in Subaru, plans to spend 1.05 trillion yen on r&d in the current fiscal year and Honda Motor Co. will invest 750 billion yen.

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