Subaru Will Happily Build A Modern Brat Pickup If There's Enough Demand

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It seems Subaru is also looking into building a Maverick rival.

Subaru has hinted that it may produce a modern BRAT pickup/ute if there's enough interest from consumers. The famous Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter (BRAT) was sold in the USA from 1978 to 1987, and around 100,000 units were sold.

While speaking to CarsGuide Australia, Subaru's managing director, Blair Read, said the Japanese manufacturer has a history of giving customers what they want. He used the introduction of turbocharged Outback as an example. Subaru introduced the 2.4-liter turbocharged engine at the New York Motor Show in 2019. Australia had to wait until February 2023 to get the turbocharged model.

Simply put, if enough (Australian) customers show interest, Subaru will build a modern BRAT, or Brumby as it was known Down Under.

"We are always listening," said Read. "We heard the feedback on Outback. We heard the demand from the public and the Subaru buyers saying they wanted a turbo Outback. Tick. It's here.

"We always listen to the customer. It's not: 'what do we think?' It's: 'what is the customer saying - what are they looking for?' We hear the [BRAT] question all the time, and it has been a while. We go around Australia, and we get asked - and we're listening," said Read.

The Australian and New Zealand markets are essential because the BRAT was sold there until 1994. There was sufficient demand for Subaru to produce the vehicle in Japan and export it long after it had stopped selling the car in other global markets, including its country of origin. The final production figure was roughly 800,000, which shows how little sway the USA would have in this decision.

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Still, the possibility is worth exploring if you look at BRAT demand in the USA. The name is still worth something, with nice examples selling for roughly $20,000 and pristine low-mileage models demanding approximately $30,000. It's a good car, and unlike its rivals at the time, it was equipped with all-wheel-drive.

Subaru also found a novel way around the infamous chicken tax. It put two (easily removable) jump seats in the load bin, which technically made it a passenger car. That reduced the tax to 2.5% instead of the 25% import duty, which is still responsible for keeping some highly sought-after machines from getting the go-ahead in the USA.

Thanks to platform sharing, building a BRAT in the USA would be relatively easy. Subaru's plant in Lafayette, Indiana, builds the Legacy, Outback, and Ascent. These models are built on the Subaru Global Platform, which would form the basis of any upcoming ICE products.

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One of the lines can easily be adapted for a new model, and a modern BRAT will use existing powertrains or share an engine with Toyota. Subaru is in the process of developing new EVs and PHEVs, and these will arrive in the USA in 2025.

It's also worth noting that other manufacturers have noticed the success of the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz. Ram's upcoming small pickup truck is already in development, and GM is reportedly benchmarking the Maverick.

There's only one thing standing in the way, and that's right-hand drive. The countries where the BRAT is most likely to succeed are RHD, thanks to the UK's infamous colonization program. These include Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Japan is also RHD, so that's the most likely format for the car.

Considering the growing demand for smaller unibody pickups, Subaru might consider the development cost worthwhile.

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