Subaru has avoided the draw to create its own electric vehicle, despite what its larger competitors are doing. Tighter emissions regulations around the globe, though, have the company reconsidering its options. The company is pouring a record amount of money into research and development, and that includes EV technology. Also, Subaru could introduce a plug-in hybrid as early as next year, and an all-electric vehicle by 2021.
Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga claims that the company doesn't need a dedicated platform for battery-powered cars, and will likely put plugs into existing models. This way, the automaker doesn't have to partner with another company beyond finding a supplier for the motor and battery, and can extract the full value out of its current nameplates. A previous report suggests that Subaru would electrify the Outback or the Forester, but Yoshinaga doesn't confirm this in his interview. Instead he uses a model that recently ditched its hybrid version in a hypothetical example: "If there's already an attractive Subaru model, for example the XV crossover, and if a customer in Beijing wants one but is only allowed to buy an electric vehicle, if there's no electric version then he can't buy it. Providing the choice of an EV means the customer can still desire the same Subaru."
As for sourcing the battery, Yoshinaga says that a decision would have to come in about a year, and Panasonic and Samsung are possibilities. In addition to electric vehicles, Subaru will use some of its $1.2 billion in funds set aside for R&D for the year ending in March, 2018 on driver assist technology, autonomous driving, and connected vehicles.