Subaru's built itself a hybrid before, but the automaker hasn't yet fully embraced the industry's move toward electrification. It's not a race, but Subaru is definitely taking it slow and steady.
Subaru is mulling whether to introduce electric versions of its current lineup or branch out and develop something new, Bloomberg reports, based on an interview with CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga. As it stands now, the goal is to get a plug-in hybrid on sale next year, with a pure battery-electric vehicle to follow in 2021.
There are benefits to both approaches, but the interview makes it sound like Subaru is more interested in electrifying its current crop of cars. This makes sense because it allows Subaru to make the best of its reputation as a manufacturer of safe, sensible automobiles. It would also prevent Subaru from needing to partner up to share costs, which is a minefield to navigate in its own right.
"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."
With a number of automakers set to debut electric cars between now and 2021, Subaru's decision couldn't come sooner. Its prime competitors in Japan are already hard at work on battery-electric vehicles -- in the case of Nissan, it's readying the second generation of the Leaf. Subaru is currently seeking suppliers to help its electric aspirations come to fruition.
Subaru's also looking to spend some money upgrading its popular EyeSight suite of active and passive safety systems. Bloomberg reports that Subaru will update its technology later this year to allow for semi-autonomous control on congested highways, similar to other automakers' stop-and-go adaptive cruise control setups. In 2020, EyeSight should carry the capability to navigate highways without drivers.