Subaru looks likely to offer pure electric drivetrain options in models from its existing range, rather than develop a dedicated EV model.
Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, Subaru’s CEO, told Automotive News the company is currently weighing its EV options, but is leaning towards electrifying one or more of its existing models.
Although Yoshinaga isn’t against developing a dedicated EV model, he noted this would likely require an external automotive partner.
It’s not clear which vehicles in the Subaru range will be the first to be offered with an electric drivetrain.
He told Automotive News: “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.
“Providing the choice of an EV means the customer can still desire the same Subaru.”
Yoshinaga believes the company’s core selling point is safety, and it should have no problems selling vehicles without its signature boxer engine.
The company plans to launch its first plug-in hybrid model in 2018, but its first pure electric vehicle isn’t due to arrive on the market until 2021.
To speed up its electrification plans, Subaru has boosted its research and development budget to 134 billion yen ($1.6 billion) for the financial year ending March 2018.
That’s more than double Subaru’s 2013-2014 R&D budget, but, as the industry publication points out, is still considerably smaller than what Honda (750 billion yen or $9.1 billion) and Toyota (1.05 trillion yen or $12.7 billion) plan to spend this fiscal year.
According to Automotive News, Subaru has elected to prioritise electric drivetrain development over autonomous vehicle or connected car technology.