Subaru and Toyota Strike Deal To Develop New EV Platform

A Toyota logo is displayed at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva
A Toyota logo is displayed at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, March 5, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

Subaru and Toyota have entered a partnership to design a brand-new electric vehicle platform, both automakers confirmed Thursday. The companies are in the process of developing a compact SUV on this architecture, which will be sold under both brands.  

The new platform will be for "mid-size and large passenger vehicles," they said, and it can underpin both sedans and SUVs. "The two companies intend to take up the challenge of creating attractive products with appeal that only BEVs (battery electric vehicles) can offer," the automakers said in a statement. 

Details on the new platform are limited, but Subaru and Toyota have claimed it will play to both brand's strengths. As such, the pair's new C-segment SUV will combine Toyota's experience with electric technology with Subaru's four-wheel-drive expertise. The platform will also underpin a range of larger vehicles, including a D-segment saloon and SUV. 

There are no electric cars under any of these two brands sold in the United States, although both have announced extensive electrification plans in the past few years. (Toyota has admitted that it's taking a careful approach when it comes to electric cars.) The joint statement says that Toyota's electrification tech and Subaru's all-wheel-drive expertise will be put to use on the new projects. 

This isn't the first partnership from Subaru and Toyota. The companies initially formed a collaborative partnership back in 2005 to co-develop the small, rear-wheel-drive Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 twins (as well as the now-deceased Scion FR-S). Last year, Toyota applied its hybrid electric vehicle technologies to Subaru's Crosstrek, resulting in the Crosstrek Hybrid. 

Neither Subaru nor Toyota provided an exact date as to when this new vehicle platform will be finalized. They didn't confirm when the first EV SUV will be released in the market either. But since we're talking about ground-up development here, it's reasonable to assume the fruits of this shared labor won't arrive for quite some time. 

But what's safe to assume as of now is that Subaru and Toyota will likely launch the new EV platform in Japan, China, and Europe first. These markets are strong for both companies and the supporting infrastructure is developing quite rapidly. Toyota is also keen to stress that hybrid powertrains will still form a key part of their electrification strategy, and that it continues to research hydrogen technology. 

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