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South Africa's foremost electric mobility platform

  • Writer's pictureIan McLaren

Subaru enters the EV fray

A close collaboration with Toyota will see Subaru introduce its all-electric Solterra to international markets in 2022.

The same working relationship that brought us the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ twins has enabled the latter brand to move more swiftly into the EV space than some may have expected. That said, the suggestion is that Subaru lent its admittedly much-vaunted knowledge of all-wheel-drive to the project, while Toyota offered its fast-evolving expertise in electrification to the concept.

Built on the brand’s also jointly developed e-Subaru Global Platform, the name Solterra is made up of the Latin words for Sun and Earth. As such, the Japanese brand that still prospers with evergreen models like the Forester and Outback is keen to play its role in a more sustainable future.

Boasting 210 mm worth of ground clearance, the Solterra all-terrain SUV will be launched internationally with a choice of either an all-wheel-drive (AWD) model or (look away Subaru fans), indeed, a front-wheel-drive derivative. By losing 90-kilograms worth of a secondary, rear-mounted electric motor, this latter model will offer a claimed operating range of up to 530 km via the vehicle's 71.4 kWh battery. The “proper” Subaru boasts a claimed operating range of up to 460 km.

True to form, the AWD Solterra will feature the brand’s X-Mode driving mode selector, as well as Grip Control which seems essentially to be a cruise control function for uneven gravel sections.

Styling aside, Subaru’s first EV is slightly longer than the modern Forester package yet is wider than the current flagship Outback design. While the car is lower in terms of overall height (1 650 mm) than both its stablemates, its wheelbase (with battery pack stowed neatly between the front and rear axles) is 100 mm longer than the Outback, at 2 850 mm.

“Solterra is the vehicle which takes an important role for Subaru, the company aiming at ‘delivering happiness to all’, to face the challenges of global warming and climate change and continue to deliver smiles in the future," says the brand.

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