TOKYO, November 11 (Reuters) – Japan’s Subaru Corp (7270.T) unveiled its first all-electric vehicle (EV), Solterra, on Thursday, the result of a two-year joint development project with its largest shareholder, Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.T).
The launch of the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) comes amid growing demand for electric cars as nations around the world tighten environmental regulations to reduce carbon emissions. Toyota last month announced its version of a battery-powered vehicle (BEV), the bZ4X.
The technological shift away from internal combustion engines poses a challenge for smaller car manufacturers, such as Subaru, which is less able to finance the expensive development of electric cars. At the same time, there is an opportunity for top-class car manufacturers, such as Toyota, to draw smaller rivals closer.
“The electricity market is not mature yet, so we will respond to it by deepening the partnership with Toyota,” said Subaru CEO Tomomi Nakamura during a launch event.
For the time being, he said, Solterra will be built by Toyota in Japan, and Subaru can move production to its main market, the United States, when it has sufficient sales volume.
Toyota, a pioneer in hybrid electric cars but a descendant of the entire electric car market, plans to have a series of 15 BEV models by 2025. It will also spend $ 13.5 billion over the next decade to expand car battery production capacity.
Subaru’s car sales are less than a tenth of sales at Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker in terms of production volume.
The front-wheel drive Solterra has a range of 530 km (329 miles), while the four-wheel drive version can drive 460 km on a single charge, Subaru said in a press release.
Toyota owns a fifth of Subaru and has a 5% stake in Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T), which plans to launch 13 electrified vehicles by 2025, including hybrids and BEVs that will include Toyota technology.
Reporting by Tim Kelly and Maki Shiraki; Edited by Christian Schmollinger, Robert Birsel
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.