Subaru teased the upcoming release of the company’s first electric SUV yesterday, and many are wondering if its name and cryptic marketing images are referencing more than just its solar-charged name. As TechRadar and elsewhere have noted, the Solterra will be built on the same platform as Toyota’s new bZ4X EV, which is already confirmed to feature an “on-board solar charging system” that allegedly will extend the vehicle’s range. Given this one spec, coupled with Subaru’s choice in name and its teaser image of a sun-silhouetted car, it’s not a huge leap to assume the Solterra will include a similar solar boost.
Unfortunately, the EV’s name and two photos are all consumers have to go on at the moment. Subaru has yet to release any additional details, but with a release date set for sometime next year, it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing much more about the Solterra in the months to come.
The power of its ‘solar power’ remains to be seen — Assuming the “solar charging system” hypothesis to be true, it’s currently unclear just how much juice drivers will get from the rumored addition. Similar upcoming cars like Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 will purportedly include solar panels installed on the vehicle’s roof that are capable of adding an estimated additional 2000km range per year (or around 5-6km a day) so it seems likely Subaru’s add-on would fall somewhere near this ballpark.
... Of course, maybe this is all empty conjecture, and the soon-to-be released Solterra is simply paying homage to the sun with its cute name. Seems unlikely, but hey, it’s important to set realistic expectations, especially within the burgeoning EV market.
Another legacy car company to compete with Tesla — The announcement of Subaru’s (admittedly belated) entry into the all-electric vehicle field adds yet another name into a market that, until recently, was pretty much wholly associated with Tesla. Given Subaru’s previously announced collaboration with Toyota on a shared EV platform (dubbed the “e-Subaru” or “e-TNGA” depending on your maker preference), it’s somewhat unsurprising to learn of the Solterra less than a month after the bZ4X’s reveal.
And while Tesla’s newest competitors have already faced impressive safety hurdles, it’s not like Elon Musk’s EV maker isn’t without its fair share of problems... many, many problems, if we’re being honest here. These hiccups are to be expected in such a new, emerging market, however, so Tesla could definitely have its work cut out for it if these competitors learn from previous mistakes. It’s easy to imagine, especially when Musk isn’t exactly one to admit wrongdoing or exaggeration.