Why is Suburu suddenly launching the Solterra EV during COP26?
Everything has its time when it comes to product launch. Take a look at Subaru. For months, it has been counting down the debut of the company's all-electric SUV, the Solterra, at next week's LA Auto show.
Then all of a sudden, overnight, the company unveiled their battery-powered electric vehicle online in Japan. Very strategic, if you ask me, with COP26 time.
But before we dive into the big things that suggest this, let's take a quick look at what's on offer.
Innovation born out of the conflict of friends
The Solterra is the result of a two-year project: the development of the e-Subaru Global Platform in conjunction with Toyota Motor Corporation. Let me remind you here, Toyota has 20% Subaru.
Not surprisingly, the electric SUV shares the technology of the d platform with Toyota's first BEVmodel, the bZ4.
There are two versions of the Solterra:the front wheel has a ride range of 530km, and the 4WD version can drive 460km on a single charge.
Both cars come with a 71.4kWh battery under the floor with a DC capacity to quickly charge up to 150kW - though the company has not shared how long the full charge will last.
Ceiling with solar panels - I want to know more
The display mentioned a roof with solar panels, but little was known. Of course, this is not really surprising as the name combines the Latin words for sun and earth. I'm interested in finding out what more capabilities the solar panel can add to the battery range.
Why did you launch the Solterra a week before its release?
The interesting thing is why now? It's not like the LA Autoshow is a small fry.
Further, it is no coincidence that Japan's publishing coincides with OEMs such as Ford, Mercedes - Benz, General Motors, and Volvo promising COP26's stability exposure:
We will work towards the sale of new cars and vans to zero emissions worldwide by 2040, and by 2035 at the primary market.
Compare this to Japan, a country that has traditionally been attractive in its commitment to renewable energy. Their local automotive business is now struggling to make ends meet.
Toyota - the world's best - selling retailer - did not release its first all - electric vehicle in 2020. While it has invested in hydrogen, it has weakened in keeping up with renewable innovation. Is the partnership with Suburu so much about renewing their image as a friendly conflict?
But to make matters worse, they did not sign the COP26 pledge, nor did Suburu or Hyundai-Kia. The Renault-Nissan alliance is also off the list. It's not a good sight for Japan.
In fact, for an industry that relies heavily on exports to Europe, Australasia, and the US, is a strange behavior. In particular, as countries push down on subsidies and incentives for the manufacture and ownership of electric vehicles.
But it's not all bad in Japan
Fortunately, this is not bad news for Japan. Hyundai has invested heavily in hydrogen, and the Nissan Leaf remains one of the best - selling electric cars in the world.
But while the Nissan Leaf is focused on the city’s driving market, the Solterra is designed to be off-road and all-weather capable.
In particular, the company states:
Solterra has adopted a new system that drives the front and rear wheels with separate motors.
Like the other Suburu SUV models, Solterra features an AWD X-MODE control system that enhances a sense of security on rough roads.
In addition, they have adopted a new Grip Control function, which allows the vehicle to run at a constant speed, making it stable even on rough roads. This is an all-terrain vehicle for off-road driving. So who is their competition? The Rivian R1S SUV?
The Solterra is scheduled for market launch in Japan, the US, Canada, Europe, and China from mid - 2022.