An electric crossover for around $30,000, backed by a reputable manufacturer.
Subaru is on the verge of introducing its first-ever electric car named the Solterra. Aside from the BRZ, Subaru has a long history of cars with great names. Its current range consists of cars with names that summon a sense of wanderlust: Crosstrek, Ascent, Forester, and Outback.
Solterra also sounds quite adventurous, but the name is actually made up of the Latin words for sun and earth. It works on multiple levels. The sun provides energy to solar panels, which in an ideal world would be our main source of electricity. The reference to earth could mean that the Subaru is kinder to the planet, and that's it's likely a great car to use for exploring it.
Designing a new EV is a costly business venture, which is why Subaru teamed up with Toyota. These two manufacturers work well together, as proved by the BRZ and the GR 86. Their new combined effort is something else entirely, however. The Solterra will form the basis of all Subaru's new crossover projects in the future.
Subaru is a bit late to the EV party. It offers the Crosstrek plug-in hybrid with 17 miles of electric range, but that's it. In this regard, the partnership with Toyota is going to pay off in a big way. Toyota kickstarted the hybrid revolution, not to mention its impressive progress in hydrogen power. Oddly though, it doesn't offer a fully electric car. The Solterra's cousin, the bZ4X, will be that company's first as well. The main difference between the two is that the Subaru is presumably not named after one of Elon Musk's kids.
So, what do we know so far? Well, we can deduce a few things from Toyota and Subaru's previous work. To save cost, these two cars will have the same bones. Toyota jumped the gun a bit and released the first images of the beezedfourex, while Subaru has only released one dark teaser image. The overall shape appears to be the same, but since this is such an important car for both companies, we do think there will be some unique design cues to differentiate them.
The interiors will likely remain close, as it would cost Subaru a mint to design something entirely different. Toyota's cabin is also magnificent, so we don't see why Subaru would want to move away from it. This will also help both companies keep the cost of the car at around $30,000 to $35,000. Both companies will likely want to undercut the Tesla Model 3, which will be their biggest rival.
If Subaru and Toyota can get the pricing right, they'll offer the first crossover in this price bracket. The crossover part matters because that's the body style people prefer these days. The death of most sedans is enough to prove this. Couple that with two of the most trusted brands in automotive history, and you possibly have a class-dominating formula.
As for the drivetrain, there are no details available. For the Solterra to be relevant, the range would have to be somewhere around the Hyundai Kona EV's 258-mile range and the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus's 263-mile range.
Since Subaru is synonymous with all-wheel-drive, at least one model will have to be off-road ready. The most likely solution at the bottom end will be an electric motor driving the front wheels. Add another electric motor to drive the rear axle, and you have AWD without any mechanical couplings. This will be unlike anything Subaru has done before, but considering their long history with AWD, we doubt they'll get the setup wrong.