Hot on the heels of Toyota revealing its version of the fully-electric SUV it co-developed with Subaru, the smaller company has also shown off its version for the first time and, rather unsurprisingly, it is quite similar.
Subaru says the Solterra – named by combining the Latin words for ‘sun’ and ‘earth’ – is built on the e-Subaru Global Platform, which is a new AWD, all-electric vehicle architecture. It also happens to be the Toyota e-TNGA platform, as both companies contributed to the development of the all-electric SUV and its new platform that features a thin, high-capacity battery pack placed flat under the floor, and an “e-axle” that integrates the motor, transaxle and inverter.
As such the Solterra is exactly the same size as the Toyota bZ4X (4690mm long, 1860mm wide and 1650mm tall) and packs the same dual motor AWD set up of two 80kW motors powered by a 71.4kWh battery pack that Subaru says is good for a range of up to 460km.
While Subaru downplayed it at the launch, the Solterra will also be available as a FWD model, like the Toyota, with a single 150kW motor on the front axle.
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However given Subaru New Zealand’s 100 per cent AWD strategy, that one is unlikely to make it here, with Subaru of New Zealand Managing Director Wallis Dumper saying “It is important to us that we remain true to our 100 per cent All-Wheel Drive strategy in New Zealand, and we will introduce the Solterra knowing it can handle Subaru Country.
“We look forward to working with Subaru Corporation to bring an All-Wheel Drive electric vehicle to the New Zealand market, with the same DNA that is shared by the rest of our Subaru line-up.”
No mention is made of the drive-by-wire system (and the associated comedy yoke steering wheel) that the Toyota will launch with in the Chinese market, but will eventually roll out globally as regulations allow.
While the Solterra shares the majority of its body with the bZ4X, including the distinctive angular black wheel arches, it gets a different front end with a reprofiled bumper and different headlights, as well as a somewhat Ford Mustang Mach-E-reminiscent fake grille. Down the back, a different c-style taillight design differentiates the Solterra from its Toyota cousin.
“The Solterra signals a new era for the Subaru brand as we continue our journey towards a more sustainable future here in New Zealand, said Dumper.
“The global reveal will no doubt stir great anticipation and excitement in our Kiwi Subaru drivers. The Solterra will enable them to explore the places they would rather be in their own backyard, while taking care of it at the same time, as we see the next expression of Subaru Corporation’s commitment to electrification.”
Dumper said that New Zealand has some “unique challenges” imposed by the Government to force a change to electric vehicles ahead of global timelines.
“With models like the Subaru Solterra coming, it supports and expediates our desire to do so. Key to this success will be how fast the entire automotive industry can be transformed. It can’t be done overnight, nor can we get ahead of the major markets.”
Dumper said that while Subaru Corporation is yet to confirm a timeline for the Solterra’s arrival in New Zealand, he was working “very closely with Japan and Australia and future electric projects form part of ongoing dialogue between our three entities.”
“We can however acknowledge and do our best to support the present Government’s climate change goals and the role of transport in achieving them.”
The Solterra launch will start by the middle of 2022 in some international markets including Japan, the United States, Canada, Europe and China.