Subaru's first EV can't catch a break.
Subaru has announced a recall of 1,182 Solterra SUV models that is directly related to an earlier recall involving wheels that could detach, something that affected the Toyota bZ4X last year as well. As a reminder, these two electric crossovers share the same platform.
The specific issue was for hub bolts that could loosen, thereby leading to a possible wheel detachment, and we don't have to tell you about the scary possibilities that could unfold if that happens. It has been found that Solterra models repaired at two port locations by a particular team of contractors were not correctly fixed, resulting in under-torqued bolts.
Vehicles repaired at other facilities are not affected, but it marks another chapter of a recall that generated much negative attention last year.
Subaru has stated that until the inspection or remedy is completed, owners of affected Solterra models should not drive their vehicle. Instead, retailers will contact relevant customers to have their Solterras towed for inspection. As with the inspection and potential retorquing of the nut bolts, customers will not have to pay for the towing.
In October last year, Toyota issued a fix for the bZ4X's wheel problem months after the vehicle recall was announced. Owners of the bZ4X who were affected were offered a $5,000 credit, extra complimentary charging, a warranty extension as compensation for the inconvenience, or they could have their vehicles bought back by Toyota.
While all this was going on, sales of the bZ4X stalled before the EV could gain any real momentum. Subaru said last year that no Solterras that were potentially affected had been delivered to customers or retailers yet and were being held until further notice. But based on the latest recall, it's clear that some affected Solterras did eventually reach customers due to the improper repair.
This isn't the reputation-building exercise that Subaru or Toyota would've wanted for their first EVs. Like other Japanese manufacturers, the two have yet to catch up to European and Korean rivals in bringing EVs to market. Besides the wheel issue, both EVs are also mediocre when it comes to two critical factors: maximum range and maximum charging speed. In cold weather, the bZ4X's range drops even further.
We can only hope this is the last stumbling block for the Solterra and bZ4X, as both automakers look to bring more EVs to the market over the next few years. For Subaru, its electrified range will increase significantly by 2025, so it will hope for a swift end to the hiccups faced by the Solterra.
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