Lacking in terms of electrification, Subaru Chief Executive Officer Yasuyuki Yoshinaga has detailed the company’s electrification strategy in a recent Bloomberg report. The company, which does not have the massive R&D budgets of larger Japanese automakers, is likely going to electrify existing models versus producing all-new ones.
Adding electric powertrains to existing models accomplishes a few goals for the company. For starters, it allows Subaru to maintain its existing image of safety and allows it to keep all the vehicle elements that have propelled it to sales growth in recent years. Yoshinaga also outlines that such a strategy would allow Subaru to avoid needing a partner to develop electric vehicles, a business strategy he seems to oppose.
“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 to Bloomberg. “Providing the choice of an EV means the customer can still desire the same Subaru.”
Electrifying existing vehicles is not a strategy that has been popular in the industry thus far. Most automakers are launching dedicated EV models, such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt EV. Other automakers are bundling all of their EV’s under a specific nameplate, such as Mercedes-Benz with their new EQ sub-brand.
Part of the logic behind Subaru adopting this strategy is the hefty R&D spending required to develop electric vehicles. Subaru is planning to spend $1.2 billion over the next 12 months on R&D, which is double what it spent just three years ago. There’s only so much money to go around, so avoiding the ground-up development of new models for electrification would certainly save some cash.
Subaru is currently expected to launch a new plug-in hybrid model next year, while the company is currently targeting 2021 for the launch of its first pure EV. At this time it sounds like it is anyone’s guess as to which Subaru model will be electrified first.