Subaru And Mazda's Lack Of EVs Is Actually Brilliant Business Strategy

Industry News

This will pay off in the not too distant future.

Neither Mazda nor Subaru offer a purely battery-powered electric vehicle in their respective lineups. Subaru, however, will launch the plug-in hybrid version of the Crosstrek later this year, but a full-on EV is still some time out. Both Japanese automakers are fairly small compared to other mainstream automakers so R&D resources are far more limited. But that’s okay. Neither company minds. Bloomberg has an interesting report about why neither automaker is aggressively pursuing EVs at the moment.

The answer, at least for Subaru, is very simple and brilliant business wise. “If we put one (an EV) out now, we’re going to be competing in the teeth of the market with everybody else,” said Subaru US Chief Executive Officer Tom Doll. “This way, we can let them kind of sort it out, then we can come in.” In other words, let the bigger and wealthier competition do all the heavy leg work, the technology will spread across the industry, and only then will Subaru get in the game, saving a ton of money in the process. No one from Mazda could be reached by Bloomberg to comment, but it’s also clearly in no rush to launch an EV, so it sounds like its strategy is very similar to that of Subaru.

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Word has it a battery-powered Mazda is still, at the very least, two years away. Don’t forget that Mazda is about to debut its SkyActiv X engine technology, which essentially combines the best and most efficient elements of gasoline and diesel engines. Something else worth pointing out is Subaru’s hybrid tech comes from Toyota, which owns nearly 17 percent of Subaru’s shares. That partnership already helps Subaru offset some costs and, just as important, to buy it time in joining the EV game. “I’d rather be last in and get it right,” said Doll, Subaru’s US chief, “than be first in and destroy my brand image and reputation.”

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