Subaru Thinking of Adding Electric Car Versions of Existing Models

Expect a plug-in hybrid Subaru as early as next year.

byEric Brandt|
Subaru Thinking of Adding Electric Car Versions of Existing Models

Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga has expressed a new interest in developing electric cars. He said Subaru will unveil a plug-in hybrid vehicle as soon as next year, and the carmaker is planning to reveal a fully electric vehicle by 2021.

“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. “Providing the choice of an EV means the customer can still desire the same Subaru.”

In other words, Subaru is investing in electric vehicles out of necessity. It's the latest in a growing group of automakers to determine electric cars are not just a fad or a pipedream. It knows tougher emissions regulations are coming, and so Subaru is preparing for an electrified future. It sounds like it have no interest in developing a dedicated EV platform, but rather, electrifying existing models—a sharp contrast to many other carmakers, which are developing entirely separate electric vehicle models

Yoshinaga's interview calls to mind the failed XV Crosstrek Hybrid. It was a little crossover that was only three miles per gallon more efficient overall than its conventional counterpart. With a much bigger research and development budget this time around, it’s unlikely Subaru will develop a half-baked attempt at a green car this time.

Subaru is also putting some chips on autonomy. They’re planning to use some of their $1.2 billion R&D budget to further develop their EyeSight driver-assist system to become more autonomous, eventually turning into full self-driving tech. They company is reportedly shooting for fully autonomous highway driving in 2020.

Well, here’s hoping electric Subarus will still be all-wheel drive.