Subaru today unveiled its first all-electric vehicle, an SUV called the Solterra. The Solterra is built upon a platform developed in conjunction with Toyota over the last two years. It’s the same platform used by Toyota’s first electric vehicle, the bZ4X.
We’re privy to the Solterra’s specs thanks to an early press release (and a teaser from a few months back), but the vehicle itself will make its IRL debut at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show next week. The 2023 Solterra will launch in two flavors, one with front-wheel drive and another with all-wheel drive.
Both versions of the Solterra include a 71.4 kWh battery beneath the vehicle floor, though its range will take a small hit if you opt for the all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive Solterra will be able to drive approximately 460 kilometers (about 260 miles) on a single charge, while the front-wheel-drive will net you about 530 km (about 329 miles).
The Solterra will be constructed in Subaru’s home territory of Japan for now, though the operation may move to the U.S. if demand is high enough. That should help Subaru ease away from combustion engines in a way that doesn’t hurt its bottom line too much.
Ready for anything — Subaru’s vehicles have always straddled the line between something built for the grit of off-roading and something luxurious enough to parade through city streets. With the Solterra, Subaru is showing that it can provide that same adaptability in a climate-friendly package.
The AWD version will obviously appeal most to those planning to get their Solterra dirty. Two 80 kW motors power the front and back axles of the all-wheel version, providing a total of 214 horsepower; the FWD Solterra has a 150 kW AC synchronous motor that provides a total of 201 horsepower.
Subaru is also bringing some of its flagship stability features, like the X-Mode AWD control system, to the Solterra. The electric vehicle is also introducing something called Grip Control, which The Verge reports will allow the SUV to “run at a constant speed while stabilizing the vehicle even on rough roads.”
Easing in — Subaru has really taken its sweet time getting into the electric vehicle market. Other well-regarded carmakers, like Ford and BMW, shifted their focus away from combustion engines years ago.
Subaru’s operation volume can’t compare to those automakers, though. That’s why it teamed up with Toyota — a major shareholder in Subaru — to create the platform for its electric vehicles. Toyota’s production volume is more than ten times that of Subaru; the company plans to spend $13.5 billion over the next decade to expand its battery production capacity, which could help Subaru out, too.
For many companies, getting in late to the EV market could be a cause for concern. Tesla has already sucked so much of the air out of that room. But Subaru has an extremely loyal fanbase. That could be enough to turn the company’s loose EV dreams into reality.